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Alan Cumming announced as new Artistic Director for Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2021

Alan Cumming announced as new Artistic Director for Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2021
June 22, 2020

Adelaide Festival Centre has advised that acclaimed cabaret and all-round performer, writer and social activist Alan Cumming is the Artistic Director for Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2021.

Cumming will be the first-ever international Artistic Director in the festival’s history when Adelaide Cabaret Festival celebrates its 21st anniversary next year. 

His appointment was announced on the final night of Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2020: Bite-Sized & Home Delivered, the online offering in place of the 2020 festival.

The Scottish entertainer boasts an illustrious career as an actor, comedian, singer, writer, filmmaker, author and Broadway and cabaret performer. He has performed with Jay Z and Liza with a Z, hosted the Tony Awards and was nominated for an Emmy for doing so; and lives in New York where he owns cabaret bar, Club Cumming.  

He won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance as the emcee in Broadway show Cabaret and received multiple Golden Globe, Emmy and SAG nominations for his role as political spinmeister Eli Gold on seven seasons of The Good Wife. Cumming has received over forty awards for his humanitarianism and social activism, including his contributions to the arts and LGBTQ equality.

He most recently performed at Adelaide Cabaret Festival in 2017 in two sold-out nights of Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs. Billboard said of the show, “he's an icon to behold - he is unapologetically himself, and with a talent like that, he has no need to apologise".

Time Magazine called him one of the three most fun people in show business, a title Cumming will be sure to uphold when he returns to Adelaide next year with a stellar line-up of local and international artists at Adelaide Festival Centre.  

Cumming advises “I first came to Adelaide over 30 years ago and have always loved the welcome I've received there.  

“And of course cabaret, with a big and small c, has always been very close to my heart!

“So to be asked to come and curate Adelaide Cabaret Festival after this missing year, to be able to bring together the most vibrant of the world’s cabaret performers, to ask them to entertain us, provoke us, make sense of the maelstrom we’re living through, and most of all remind us why cabaret is such a vital form of connection between performer and audience – well, it doesn’t get much better!

“And apparently you have some nice wine too!”

Adelaide Festival Centre Creative Director Cabaret and Commercial, Ebony Bott adds “Alan Cumming is the master of cabaret – and indeed the many artistic pursuits he has put his hand to!

“He champions this unique artform and also the power of the arts and artists to provide that essential ingredient in our everyday lives.

“Adelaide Cabaret Festival is loved by so many artists across the world, and we’re thrilled to be welcoming an international Artistic Director at a time when our global community is in need of galvanising.”

The announcement of Cumming’s appointment coincided with the final post of Adelaide Cabaret Festival’s 2020 online offering, which saw more than 85,000 engagements across the festival’s social media channels. Australian and international cabaret stars shared pithy posts in response to the classic line from Life Is A Cabaret: “What Good Is Sitting Alone in Your Room?” and these were collectively seen over 1.3 million times since the online program kicked off on 5th June.

The line-up included Cabaret Award recipient David Campbell and Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2020 Artistic Director Julia Zemiro.

Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2020 Artistic Director, Julia Zemiro notes “I will never forget my time with Adelaide Cabaret Festival – 2019 was so exhilarating to deliver and Adelaide welcomed me so, so warmly.  

“Our cabaret program for 2020 was to be a full complement to the year before but COVID-19 made us pause in the most profound and serious way.  

“We channelled some of these feelings through our online Bite-Sized & Home Delivered cabaret offering, asking artists to respond to this strange new state of the world, personally and politically –- the true trademark of cabaret.   

“And to our marvellous cabaret audiences: thank you for your patronage. See you in the foyers next year. Your new AD is going to blow your minds. I can’t wait!”

Adelaide Festival Centre Chief Executive & Artistic Director Douglas Gautier AM advised that “during her two years at the helm, Julia Zemiro has done a wonderful job of leading Adelaide Cabaret Festival through the successes and challenges presented this year.

“She has been an outstanding advocate for South Australia’s much-loved winter festival, and we thank her for her dedication.

“I also want to thank our loyal cabaret audiences for their encouragement and optimism throughout our online program as we eagerly await the return of live performances at our venues.

“We look forward to celebrating next year’s festival in person with the consummate entertainer Alan Cumming leading the way as Artistic Director of Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2021."

Image of Alan Cumming. Credit: Margarita Menard.

Related Articles

20th June 2020 - Adelaide Festival Centre trust announces new appointments 

5th June 2020 - Adelaide Cabaret Festival marks 20th Anniversary with online celebrations

3rd June 2020 - 2020 Impact Report confirms public value of Perth Festival

2nd June 2020 - Sydney Festival names Olivia Ansell as new Festival Director for 2022

2nd June 2020 - Eastern Riverina Arts launches PLATFORM for improved accessibility at festivals and events

21st May 2020 - FOMO music festival enters liquidation with $5 million owing

20th May 2020 - Modified Darwin Festival to be a local celebration of strength and resilience

13th May 2020 - Woodford Folk Festival founder Bill Hauritz says event will survive

6th May 2020 - Falls Festival looks to 2020/21 editions with all Australian lineup

27th April 2020 - Designs revealed for Adelaide’s new Festival Plaza Public Realm

2nd April 2020 - Greater Shepparton announces return of ‘Land of Plenty’ music festival

26th March 2020 - Evolution Dome partnership delivers brand activation at mountain bike festival

23rd March 2020 - Sydney Fringe plans to go ahead with 2020 Spring Festival

18th March 2020 - Perth Festival supports Live Performance Australia’s call for immediate economic stimulus

18th March 2020 - Adelaide Festival Centre and Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre announce venue closures

11th March 2020 - Coronavirus fears impacting music festivals around the world with Coachella postponed and Tasmania’s Dark Mofo cancelled

26th November 2016 - Adelaide Cabaret Festival named South Australia’s Best Major Event

10th November 2015 - Adelaide Festival Centre launches 2016 season

11th November 2013 - Barry Humphries to direct 2015 Adelaide Cabaret Festival


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