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Adelaide Fringe successfully delivers the largest festival during global pandemic

Adelaide Fringe successfully delivers the largest festival during global pandemic
March 21, 2021

On the Adelaide Fringe Festival’s closing weekend and after 31 days and nights of arts and culture, the Festival is reporting it has successfully presented the largest festival in the world during a global pandemic.

Despite the challenges of presenting performances during COVID, and with initial uncertainty about audience confidence, Adelaide Fringe is projected to sell a phenomenal 630,000 tickets to a value of $16.4million.

Reduced capacities and a decrease in the number of registered shows due to international border closures did not stop audiences from far and wide embracing Adelaide Fringe wholeheartedly during the pandemic. Interstate tourists also flocked in to see Fringe; to date 73,710 tickets have been sold to tourists visiting South Australia.

Artists, venues, audiences, tourists, local businesses and the people of South Australia are being praised for the dedicated work and support over the past month to make Adelaide Fringe such a monumental success.

Adelaide Fringe Director and Chief Executive, Heather Croall said she is delighted by the significant opportunity the festival has created for artists and audiences to engage in arts and culture after an extraordinary year.

Croall notes “all eyes were on us. We collaborated widely and were committed to putting this Adelaide Fringe on for the people of South Australia and creating a platform for artists to perform once again. We are so thankful for the support from South Australians who got behind Fringe this year.”

Audiences have embraced the implementation of the COVIDSafe guidelines from scanning the QR codes upon entry to every venue, using the e-ticketing system and wearing masks in venues selling more than 50% capacity.

Endless creativity and innovation were applied to present this year’s Fringe in response to COVID, including the build of large outdoor amphitheatres, immersive light displays, festival activations in laneways and digital experiences. The season of the immersive arts display, Borealis, has been extended for an additional week due to high demand, running from 24th – 28th March exclusively, giving audiences a chance to experience the magic of the Northern Lights here in Adelaide.

Adelaide Fringe has successfully continued to improve on its accessibility initiatives in 2021, which this year included partnerships with Deaf Can:Do and new partner Guide Dogs SA/NT.

Adelaide Fringe undertook a large development on the festival’s website enabling audiences with accessibility needs to book their own companion card tickets, without the barrier of calling the call centre.

New ticketing initiatives included ‘Double Your Applause’ which raised $52,000 in ticket sales for artists, whereby audiences could purchase two seats, one for themselves and one as a donation for the empty COVIDSafe seat next to them. The mid-week treat price type increased audiences’ attendance for weekday performances, allowing audiences to attend at a cheaper price and artists to have larger houses outside of the weekend.

So far $146,000 has been raised through micro donations by audience members at point of ticket purchase and the generosity of the Donor Circle for the Adelaide Fringe Foundation.

This year’s program was made up of 71% South Australian shows compared to 52% in 2020.

Croall advised “because of the international travel ban, it was an opportunity for South Australian artists to shine in their hometown when usually they would be performing in all corners of the globe, so we really did have the best that the country has to offer, right here at Fringe.”

Ben Owen, State General Manager Consumer BankSA, which is the Principal Partner of the Fringe, said the festival is truly part of the fabric of South Australia and 2021 is about getting back to growth.

“It’s part of who we are as a city and a state, and I’m thrilled that BankSA’s long-standing partnership continues to be all about making the Fringe accessible to as many people as possible,” Owen said.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall congratulated South Australia on the huge effort in following COVID regulations and the support shown to the Adelaide Fringe adding “Adelaide Fringe has defied the odds and once again brought to life the city and the wider state. It is remarkable what event organisers, artists, venues and audiences have been able to participate in together over the last 31 days and nights.

“South Australia has worked hard to be able to stage such a world class event and I am thrilled to see the success of Adelaide Fringe especially in the COVID times. The hundreds and thousands of attendees have filled the bars, hotels, venues and restaurants of our State, which is so welcomed after such a tough year. There certainly was a buzz all over the state and it was exciting to see audiences out and about, throwing their support behind this amazing festival.”

Adelaide Fringe hits the road each year, taking the colour and joy of Fringe to regional towns through the Fringe on Tour showcase. Adelaide Fringe travels to Whyalla from the 19th-28th March.

UnEarth Whyalla Arts and Cultural Officer Deborah Hughes shares “It’s great to see the community support our local venues, and to see artists getting work after hospitality and the arts being so hard hit by the impact of the shut down a year ago.

“Thanks to the Fringe for their support and encouragement to start on this journey and giving us access to some world-class acts to enjoy right here in Whyalla.”

Adelaide Fringe 2021 was supported by the Government of South Australia Arts Recovery Fund and Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund – an Australian Government initiative.

The 2022 Adelaide Fringe will run from 18th February to 20th March 2022. For more information, visit 

Related Articles

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24th February 2021 - Adelaide Fringe events transform the city with open-air entertainment

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10th February 2021 - Adelaide Festival Centre’s major performance space to close for up to seven months from mid-July

4th February 2021 - Adelaide Fringe Festival leads the way for arts events during new COVID normal

30th December 2020 - Record-breaking voting sees new stars celebrated on Adelaide Festival Centre’s Walk of Fame

21st December 2020 - Adelaide Fringe launches innovative and creative 2021 festival program

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19th November 2020 - South Australian COVID-19 circuit breaker sees Adelaide Festival Centre cancel all performances

13th October 2020 - Plan for Adelaide Festival 2021 to be held in outdoor event spaces

1st July 2020 - Adelaide Fringe Festival delivers another record-breaking year

11th March 2020 - Adelaide Fringe Events support Kangaroo Island Recovery

11th February 2020 - Adelaide Fringe celebrates its 60th year with Kangaroo Island event and new documentary

28th November 2019 - Adelaide Fringe 2020 program celebrates diamond anniversary

18th March 2019 - 2019 Adelaide Fringe ticket sales set new box office record 

16th January 2019 - Early ticket sales predict ongoing growth of 2019 Adelaide Fringe

20th March 2017 - Adelaide Fringe sets new ticket sales record

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