In an unprecedented surge of cultural activity, Queensland’s arts and cultural scene is poised to inject an estimated $100 million into the local economy in 2024. The calendar, packed with an array of high-profile events including exclusive opera performances in the outback, enchanting art exhibitions, and time-honored musicals, is attracting attention nationwide.
Once underestimated, the arts scene in Queensland has undergone a transformative journey. Far from its former image as a cultural underdog, the sector has evolved into an economic powerhouse. Recent data from Arts Queensland indicates that event attendance has reached new heights, surpassing records set in 2019. Notably, the 2023 Brisbane Festival alone contributed over $40 million in economic benefits, with additional investments in exclusive exhibitions and theatrical productions like QAGOMA’s Fairy Tales and QPAC’s Beauty and the Beast adding another $20 million annually.
State government-funded institutions at the Queensland Cultural Centre have seen an influx of over 5.7 million visitors in the last financial year. This number is expected to rise with the lineup of blockbuster productions on the horizon. Among them is Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, premiering at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre on February 15. The show, which garnered rave reviews in Sydney, promises to be a sensation, particularly with its cast featuring local talents such as Brisbane’s Shubshri Kandiah and Jackson Head, and the Gold Coast’s Jayde Westaby.
The cultural calendar extends beyond this musical hit. Productions like RENT, James and the Giant Peach, and Round the Twist The Musical, along with TINA – the Tina Turner Musical, offer a rich tapestry of entertainment choices. John Kotzas, CEO of QPAC, emphasizes the diversity of this year’s performance schedule.
Complementing the theatrical spectacles are engaging exhibits and festivals catering to a wide audience. The Queensland Museum’s World Science Festival and the Jurassic World by Brickman LEGO exhibition are capturing the imaginations of attendees of all ages. Simultaneously, a full slate of elite productions from local and international groups ensures a continuous feast for cultural enthusiasts.
Chris Saines, Director of QAGOMA, highlighted the success of the Fairy Tales exhibition and expressed excitement for the 2024 lineup, which includes a celebration of a prominent First Nations artist and global fashion icon Iris Van Herpen, alongside the next chapter of the Asia Pacific Triennial.
Louise Bezzina, Artistic Director of the Brisbane Festival, acknowledged the role of recent productions in enhancing Queensland’s artistic reputation. Regional towns are not left behind, with festivals like the Australian Festival of Chamber of Music in Townsville and the Festival of Outback Opera in Longreach and Winton.
Queensland Arts Minister Leeanne Enoch underscored the state’s commitment to providing nation-leading and world-class art and cultural experiences. The development of new infrastructure, including a new 1500-seat performing arts venue at QPAC and First Nations Cultural Centres in Brisbane and Cairns, positions the sector for sustained growth and success.
Adding to this vibrant landscape is The Pink Flamingo Spiegeland, quickly becoming the crown jewel of Brisbane’s North Shore. Garnering rave reviews for its unique blend of entertainment, this latest destination is fast becoming a hot spot, drawing both locals and tourists alike, eager to experience the best of Queensland’s burgeoning arts and cultural scene.