Fringe funding boost as economic impact revealed

The Adelaide Fringe will be given millions of dollars more state government funding, as the arts festival today reported the 2022 event generated $74m worth of spending and organizers now aimed to sell a million tickets a year.

Arts Minister Andrea Michaels today announced the Adelaide Fringe would receive an extra $2ma year for four years to help with marketing, securing headline events and artist grants.

“The Fringe not only captures the public’s imagination with its celebration of so many art forms, it also brings thousands of additional dollars, jobs and tourists into South Australia,” Michaels said.

“That is why the Malinauskas Labor Government has committed to $2 million additional funding per annum to further grow the Fringe and its economic impact.”

Fringe director and CEO Heather Croall said the extra funding would “help the Fringe bounce back to our pre-COVID levels and continue to deliver benefits to the arts sector and South Australia”.

“With this funding, we will disperse grants to artists that we know will make a huge difference to their Fringe season,” she said.

“We have set an ambitious target to sell a million tickets per year at Adelaide Fringe – a key factor in achieving that will be attracting more tourists to Fringe. This funding will allow Fringe to work on attracting more visitors, selling more tickets and delivering massive economic and cultural benefits to the State.

The funding announcement came as the Adelaide Fringe today released its economic impact report.

Total spending generated during the 2022 event was a considerable increase on the 2021 COVID-impacted festival ($56.39 million) but still down on 2020 ($96.7 million).

The report also said that 32,000 interstate visitors attended this year’s Fringe, with the average visitor spend quadrupling over the past six years to $2258 per person. The festival was also found to have generated 178,055 “tourist nights” by interstate/international audiences and artists.

Held from February 18 to March 20 and featuring 5820 artists performing across more than 360 venues, the open-access event sold 727,567 tickets – up 15 percent on last year – and achieved total box office revenue of $19.7 million.

“The Fringe is so important to South Australians and you could feel the magical atmosphere of Fringe envelop us all this year,” Adelaide Fringe CEO Heather Croall said.

“In our audience survey, 93 per cent of attendees told us that Fringe positively impacts their mental health and 96 per cent said Fringe is important to the state.”

Uncertainty, restrictions and border closures caused by the pandemic continued to pose a challenge for the festival in 2022, with government grants used to help offset risks for artists and venues presenting shows.

An economic evaluation released on Tuesday by the Adelaide Festival showed it also drew more interstate visitors (11,782) and generated greater estimated spending ($51.8 million) for the state in 2022 than in 2021.

WOMADelaide, which this year returned to its seven-stage format in Botanic Park after pivoting to a series of sunset concerts last year, released a separate 2022 economic impact report earlier this month showing that it generated estimated gross associated expenditure of $33.6 million throughout the SA economy and created 52,300 visitor nights.

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