March 18, 2022
AF22 celebrates a return to glorious live performance
The 2022 Adelaide Festival (4 - 20 March) curated by Artistic Directors Rachel Healy and Neil Armfield AO has seen an invigorating and inspiring 17-day event unfold. With two days still to go, the Adelaide Festival has exceeded its box office target, reaching $4.9 million (excluding WOMADelaide box office).
The 2022 Adelaide Festival offered 71 events in theatre, music, opera, dance, film, writing and visual arts – along with its festivals-within-the-Festival: Adelaide Writers’ Week, Chamber Landscapes, its immersive four-day chamber music event at UKARIA, and WOMADelaide. Across 17 days, the festival programmed nine world premieres, six Australian premieres and 17 events exclusive to Adelaide, with most shows achieving their box office target.
A total audience of more than 226,518 attended Adelaide Festival events (including WOMADelaide). Interstate audiences remained committed to their annual festival pilgrimage, snapping up 24% of ticket sales. There has been a total of 74,145 tickets issued across Adelaide Festival, which takes into account FREE ticketed events such as Macro.
Sold out shows
There was an eagerness from locals and visitors to ‘get back to normal’ and reconnect with each other. The definition of ‘sold out’ shows moved and changed due to the Festival’s Flexible Ticketing Policy, which allowed audiences plunged into unexpected isolation to receive ticket refunds and liberate new seats for sale. Changes in capacity restrictions in the middle of the Festival also unlocked thousands of tickets to otherwise sold out shows.
Confirmed sold out shows include: The Rite of Spring / common ground[s], Watershed: The Death of Dr Duncan, Macro, Girls & Boys by State Theatre Company South Australia, UKARIA performances Handel’s Acis and Galatea and Debussy and Ravel. Sold out shows at the Summerhouse included Genesis Owusu, Amyl & The Sniffers, Client Liaison and Vinyl Destination.
FREE events were again a staple of the Adelaide Festival program and were well attended with more than 93,895 visitors taking advantage of concerts, exhibitions and installations. Free events at Adelaide Festival included:
Groundswell by Melbourne artist Matthias Schack-Arnott, a six-metre, circular tilting platform equipped with 48,000 illuminated ball bearings which took up a popular residence in Rundle Mall. Over two weeks 7,000 people attended the installation including seven wheelchair users.
Opening Event Macro featuring Gravity & Other Myths and dance sensations Djuki Mala: 7,500 people attended the free event at the Village Green, Adelaide Oval.
Patricia Piccinini’s majestic Skywhales: Every heart sings floated across the skies and into the hearts of 3,000 onlookers at dawn in the middle weekend.
In the Adelaide Hills, Cupid’s Koi Garden by Australian collective ENESS enchanted 9,900 visitors who came to see the world’s first inflatable fountain in Mount Barker over six days.
Neoteric showing in the Adelaide Railway Station’s North Eastern Concourse, a diverse exhibition of work by 20 South Australian mid-career artists, hosted an audience in excess of 2,000 people and will remain open until 10 April.
300 people attended Climate Crisis and the Arts, the inaugural one-day event which brought together the arts and sciences to unpack how the arts can drive behavioural change.
Free/State, the 2022 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art at the Art Gallery of South Australia, has so far attracted in excess of 25,000 people.
Three separate exhibitions at Samstag Museum of Art by Isaac Julien (exhibiting until 27 May), Helen Fuller (exhibiting until 27 March) and Daniel Jaber (now concluded) have so far attracted in excess of 3,500 people.
Youth and Education
The Adelaide Festival schools program is designed to introduce children and young people to the arts. A total of 2,588 tickets were sold to 41 different schools across Adelaide. The most popular shows were: Juliet & Romeo (232 tickets sold), The Picture of Dorian Gray (602 tickets sold), and Wudjang: Not the Past (766 tickets sold).
A total of 41 students from disadvantaged schools attended the dress rehearsal of The Golden Cockerel and thanks to the Tix For Next To Nix program, three disadvantaged schools accessed 81 tickets supported by The Balnaves Foundation.
Through funding from SA Power Networks, 150 students from four disadvantaged schools took part in a workshop with artists from Chineke! Chamber Ensemble.
Through the generosity of the Lang Foundation, special prices to 12 shows plus online resources for teachers (with links to ACARA, SACE and IB) created opportunities for students to develop as active and interrogative theatregoers and cultural critics.
Corporate growth and philanthropic support have again contributed to the success of the Festival. Through the generosity of The Balnaves Foundation, a record 2,050 tickets were made available through the Pay What You Can and Tix For Next To Nix programs which gives those at an economic disadvantage the opportunity to attend Adelaide Festival flagship productions.
Adelaide Writers' Week (5 - 10 March)
Adelaide Writers’ Week, the fourth and final for director Jo Dyer in the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden, ran from 5 to 10 March. Themed A Better Picture, Writers’ Week brought audiences together with 180 writers, poets, journalists, historians, scientists, politicians, academics and 41 chairs from around the world, for 108 sessions both live and virtual of free open-air readings, panel sessions and literary conversations. There were 20 international authors, three of whom appeared in person: Sue Orr (New Zealand), Joelle Taylor (UK) and Murong Xuecun (China). Writers’ Week was live streamed into 111 libraries, schools, retirement villages and nursing homes (which was an 11% increase in participating organisations from 2021). The highest selling book for the week was Trent Dalton’s Love Stories, closely followed by Murong Xuecun’s Deadly Quiet City and Linda Jaivin’s The Shortest History of China.
The final weekend
The 2022 Adelaide Festival still has several exciting shows and events leading into the final weekend including:
Final performance of Bangarra’s world premiere season Wudjang: Not the Past on Friday night at the Festival Theatre.
World premiere of Manifesto by Stephanie Lake Company in the Dunstan Playhouse until Sunday.
The Picture of Dorian Gray, the extraordinary theatrical tour-de-force performed solo over two hours by Eryn Jean Norvill, at Her Majesty’s Theatre until Sunday.
Australian exclusive Prayer for the Living, combining the talents of conducto Benjamin Northey, choral director Carl Crossin with 100 choristers and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, for one show only at the Festival Theatre on Sunday.
On Saturday, Alternative Symphony presents not one but two extraordinary concerts, with their tributes to Dr Dre and Daft Punk at 7pm and 9pm. Closing out the evening, Vinyl Destination will play to a sell-out crowd from 11pm.
On Sunday, the final night of the Festival, one of Australia’s most enduring and loved live acts, The Whitlams, will play two concerts featuring all their old favorites and some new tracks.
A word from the Directors
Artistic Directors Rachel Healy and Neil Armfield AO said: "To keep an international arts festival flourishing while a deadly virus is running rampant across the globe is no mean feat. If delivering 2021 was difficult, 2022 was an obstacle course in which we climbed ladders and slid down snakes with unrelenting intensity.
"But now with the finish line in sight, the sensory memory of the last 17 days contains unforgettable riches; the best of international performing arts, and the brilliance of Australian artists who have travelled here to showcase outstanding work, or to collaborate on new work of enduring quality.
"Audiences have not held back, stopping us in the street to tell us how they have been affected by a stunning chamber music at UKARIA, thrown themselves into a wild night at the Summerhouse; had their hearts broken by Watershed or been utterly dazzled by Eryn Jean Norvill in The Picture of Dorian Gray. How their kids played all afternoon at Cupid’s Koi Garden or Groundswell or marvelled at Patricia Piccinini’s dawn Skywhales experience. The exhilaration, sustenance and joy that radiated from audiences proved to us time and again that it had all been worthwhile – and that the community was hungry for a Festival that restored and sustained."
Adelaide Writers' Week Director Jo Dyer said: “For a third astonishing year, Adelaide Writers’ Week managed to dodge the worst of COVID's consequences and was successfully, joyfully staged on our beautiful site at the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden. Despite some last-minute cancellations and quick pivots from live to virtual appearances necessitated by COVID, the floods and even a scare from a fire on the Harbour Bridge, a wonderful collection of minds and voices provoked, informed and inspired us across March 5 to 10. Our authors and audiences both ensured I am leaving on a sky-grazing high. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have been Director of the country’s most accessible, energising and uplifting festival of ideas and literature. It has been a great privilege. I look forward to being back next year as an eager audience member for Louise Adler’s first offering - I’ll be the one without the wild eyes and harried gait.”
Facts and figures
The line-up included six Australian premieres, nine world premieres and 17 events exclusive to Adelaide*
Eight works especially commissioned by the Adelaide Festival
The Summerhouse, the late-night music hub for Adelaide Festival, featured 40 free and ticketed events involving more than 235 artists, speakers and special guests across the contemporary music program and Breakfast with Papers
There was a total of 823 performances (including 108 Writers’ Week sessions + Kids’ Day + YA day) given by 863 artists from 22 countries
17,200 Rapid Antigen Tests ordered for the 2022 Festival
Sold out shows:
World Premiere and Australian Exclusive Watershed: The Death of Dr Duncan sold out seven shows in the Dunstan Playhouse
Australian Premiere and Australian Exclusive The Rite of Spring / common ground[s] sold out three shows at Her Majesty’s Theatre in the opening weekend
Girls & Boys by State Theatre Company South Australia starring Justine Clarke was a sell-out at the Odeon Theatre
Australian Exclusive Prayer for the Living at the Adelaide Festival Theatre on the final night of the festival
Macro, Gravity & Other Myths with Djuki Mala
Manifesto, Stephanie Lake Company
Wudjang: Not the Past, Bangarra Dance Theatre
The Photo Box, Vitalstatistix and Brink Productions
Chineke! Chamber Ensemble’s new commissions by William Barton and Deborah Cheetham
The Rite of Spring / common ground[s], Pina Bausch/ Germaine Acogny and Malou Airaudo, Pina Bausch Foundation, Ecole des Sables & Sadler’s Wells
Highest selling shows:
*World Premiere refers to shows or events that include works never seen or heard before in any part of the globe. Australian Premiere refers to shows or events that will have their first ever Australian performance in Adelaide. Australian Exclusives or events exclusive to Adelaide refers to shows or events that will be performed exclusively in Adelaide and are not expected to perform interstate.