The 2021 Adelaide Festival Economic Impact

The 2021 Adelaide Festival generated an estimated gross expenditure of $42.5 million for the state of South Australia.

This figure is included in a 2021 Economic Assessment report by Barry Burgan on behalf of Economic Research Consultants, commissioned by the Adelaide Festival. The report indicated that total new expenditure in South Australia due to the Festival amounted to $18.6 million (a decrease from $24.8 million in 2020), while net impact or newly created incomes on the Gross State Product, is estimated at $23.5 million (down from $30 million in 2020) including the creation of the equivalent of 218 full time jobs (decrease from 286 in 2020). The report also showed that 4690 visitors came from interstate for the Festival (decrease from 17,105 in 2020) with visitor bed nights 35,301 (decrease from 132,058 in 2020).

At the conclusion of the Adelaide Festival in March, it was announced that it achieved a total box office income $3.93 million, despite the challenges of border closures, COVID safe-plans, reduced theatre capacities and last-minute changes. While free attendances were down significantly on 2020 – largely a result of programming in response to pandemic constraints around crowd sizes and space limitations, ticketed attendances were only 16% lower relative to 2020.

The stand-out events were Robin Frohardt’s The Plastic Bag Store all the way from New York City which drew a crowd of over 12,000 across the festival; Sally Walker’s intimate 1:1 CONCERTS Series which sold out immediately and Gravity & Other Myths’ acrobatic and choral masterpiece The Pulse was a crowd favourite selling out all 7 shows. The innovative Live from Europe series which was beamed from European stages to audiences in Her Majesty’s Theatre inflected the program with great international theatre, dance and classical music, while Jessica Mauboy’s free outdoor opening concert had people dancing in their seats COVID-style, at Adelaide Oval.

Chair of Adelaide Festival Board Judy Potter Said:

Back in March, there was nowhere else in the world where a festival of this scale could go ahead. I am in awe of not only the economic impact this remarkable event had on South Australia, but the way in which the Adelaide Festival team adapted, allowed for every contingency and still managed to bring the Adelaide Festival 2021 program to life in the most glorious way. We are extremely grateful to our sponsors, donors, our loyal Adelaide Festival Friends, ticket buyers and the South Australian Government who embraced this festival with unwavering support.

Executive Director Elaine Chia Said:

It is wonderful to learn about the economic impact the 2021 Adelaide Festival had on South Australia. It was a festival like no other and reflecting on it three months later, we are still incredibly thankful, in awe and relieved at what transpired. Not only did Adelaide Festival again prove its importance to the South Australian economy through local employment, ticket sales and attendances, but also through the ever important contribution that a festival brings to the cultural life of a community.

The 2021 Adelaide Festival by Numbers:

  • $42.5 million gross expenditure generated for SA
  • $18.6 million new expenditure in SA
  • $23.5 million net impact on the Gross State Product
  • 4690 visitors to the state
  • 35,301 visitor bed nights
  • 218 jobs (full time equivalent)
  • 70 events 896 performances (includes 95 Writers’ Week sessions + Kids’ day +YA day and 140
  • WOMADelaide performances)
  • 10 world premieres and 16 Australian premieres
  • 18 events exclusive to Adelaide
  • 847 artists from 22 countries

About Adelaide Festival:

The 2021 Adelaide Festival ran for 17 days from Friday 26 February to Sunday 14 March. Adelaide Writers’ Week ran for 6 days and nights from Saturday 27 February to Thursday 4 March. WOMAD ran for 4 days and nights from Friday 5 March to Monday 8 March.

In 2021 the Adelaide Festival celebrated 61 years, 2021 was the 36th Adelaide Festival and was the fifth Adelaide Festival presented by Joint Artistic Directors Neil Armfield and Rachel Healy. Neil and Rachel will direct the 2022 and 2023 Adelaide Festival programs, making them the longest serving Artistic Directors.

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