Adelaide Fringe has outdone itself again with record ticket sales for 2017 showing that the love affair between artists, audiences and the festival is still going strong after more than 50 years.
Just like the majestic unicorn depicted on this year’s poster, the Fringe has soared to even greater heights with 655,541 tickets sold worth a total of $16.2 million. This is enough tickets to fill every seat in Adelaide Oval 13 times and is a 9 per cent increase on last year’s record sales.
Adelaide Fringe’s smaller venues performed well to account for 43 per cent of total ticket sales, while the three major outdoor hubs (the Garden of Unearthly Delights, Gluttony and Royal Croquet Club) made up the remaining 57 per cent.
With tickets still selling, more than 350 shows are expected to have sold 70 per cent or more of what they had available and more than 150 of these were in smaller venues, including Sinclair's Gully Winery, The Pocket at Stirling Fringe, Live from Tandanya, The German Club and the Grace Emily Hotel.
More than 100 new venues hosted a range of exciting Fringe events, while existing haunts sought to put on even bigger and better programming for their audiences. From a bathroom and a hotel fountain to Hindley Street nightclubs and an old gaol, Fringe-goers had plenty of quirky locations to choose from.
Adelaide Fringe Director and CEO Heather Croall, who oversaw her second Fringe this year, said the key ingredients for the festival’s success included audiences being keen to take risks and venues willing to provide a platform for emerging artists to get their start in the industry.
Ms Croall said this year’s amazing program of more than 1100 events was also the result of hard-working artists and an equally dedicated team Fringe staff members supported by 300 volunteers, along with countless others employed by hubs and venues for the Adelaide Fringe.
“We’ve been really pleased to see that locals and visitors to Adelaide alike have immersed themselves in the festival wonderland that the Fringe has to offer,” Ms Croall said.
“The energy here in the city – plus at an increasing number of suburban and regional venues – has been absolutely electric. It’s been astounding to see such a huge turnout of Fringe-goers across the 31 days of the festival.
“To have another year of record ticket sales just goes to show that our Fringe artists and events continue to offer the quality, diversity and eccentricity it takes to keep the romance with our festival well and truly alive.”
This year $45,350 was donated to the Adelaide Fringe Artist Fund by altruistic Fringe-goers. The Artist Fund provides a vital source of support for Fringe newcomers in easing the challenge of producing a show. The Fund saw nine independent Australian artists share $40,000 in funding for the 2017 Fringe.
Free public events at this year’s Fringe – supported by government and corporate partnerships – included the Tindo Utpurndee – Sunset Ceremony, Digital Walls, Digital Arcade, Fringe Parade, Unfold Fringe in Rundle Mall stage, Desert Fringe in Port Augusta, Fringe in Mount Gambier and Fringe on Tour at Westfield shopping centres, Flinders University, Adelaide Airport, Goolwa and Port Adelaide. Also the uneARTh Fringe in Whyalla is set to offer free entertainment over the Easter long weekend.
This year’s Tindo Utpurndee – Sunset Ceremony attracted 3000 attendees who witnessed a Kaurna cultural performance marking the festival’s official opening. Then the Fringe Parade saw a record 75,000 people (up from 66,000 for the 2016 Parade) line North Terrace to see more than 80 spectacular floats turn the street into a mythical forest of fantastical creatures, daring acrobatics, energetic dance routines and stunning fire and light displays.
“We want the Fringe to be as accessible as possible, which is why we seek to offer so many free events in as many places as we can across the state,” Ms Croall said.
The calibre of work being presented across this year’s Fringe could be seen in the 128 shows given four or more stars in reviews by The Advertiser as of yesterday.
The 25 shows that attracted a five-star rating included international cabaret act An Evening With Amanda Palmer; hilarious comedians Sammy J and Merrick Watts; powerful theatre productions Chamber Pot Opera and Scorch; awe-inspiring circus acts Limbo Unhinged and Driftwood; and melodious musicians The Magnets, Mercan Dede and Taasha Coates.
Ms Croall also acknowledged the involvement of Hugh Sheridan, Adrienne Truscott and James ‘Jimmy C’ Cochran as the 2017 Fringe Ambassadors.
“As our first joint Fringe ambassadors, they’ve done so much for the festival in so many different ways,” she said.
“Hugh has shared his star power and charming persona, Adrienne has been a wonderful representative for all the quirky international artists the Fringe attracts and Jimmy’s contributions to the Street Art Explosion have made a huge impact on raising the program’s profile.
Adelaide Fringe Chair David Minear said the “extraordinary” results achieved by this year’s Fringe were made possible by the “powerful” combination of thousands of talented artists along with willing, open-minded audience members.
“I also really have to acknowledge the efforts of the tireless and talented Heather Croall – her vision and drive are extraordinary and matched only by the hard work and passion of the entire Fringe team and our army of volunteers,” Mr Minear said.
“Our thanks also to our long-standing and new sponsors and supporters – our festival simply would not happen without them.
“This year’s success belongs to all who embrace what the Adelaide Fringe is about and have helped us to achieve this magical result.”
On the opening night of this year’s Adelaide Fringe, audiences took advantage of BankSA’s Take a Friend for Free campaign, with a total 1692 tickets sold. BankSA’s Support Act program saw 1147 tickets sold to shows by independent and emerging artists by subsidising ticket prices to the public.
BankSA Chief Executive Nick Reade said the buzz and positivity generated during the Fringe had been “fantastic”.
“It’s a time when we all seem to feel happier, more positive, more creative, and spend more money. These are things that are not only good for us as individuals, but also for the South Australian economy. That’s why a key focus of BankSA’s sponsorship is about maximising participation in the Fringe – and the flow on benefits for our city and state,” Mr Reade said.
The 2018 Adelaide Fringe will take place from February 16 to March 18. One of the exciting new initiatives already announced for next year’s festival is the State Government’s commitment of $1 million in funding to help make the Adelaide Fringe more affordable for artists, audiences and venues.
The funding will enable Adelaide Fringe to abolish inside charges for artists with tickets under $35 and halve inside charges for artists in the higher tier from 2018. This will make it cheaper and more viable for artists to bring their work to Adelaide Fringe.
2017 FRINGE FACTS
- 2017 Adelaide Fringe featured more than 5250 artists, 1160 shows and 453 spaces within 352 unique venues.
- The program featured 290 comedy shows, 248 music events, 143 theatre productions, 132 cabaret shows, 89 visual arts and design exhibitions, 65 children’s events, 60 special events, 43 circus/physical theatre events, 38 dance shows, 25 interactive events, 17 magic shows and 10 film and digital events
- Adelaide Fringe produced 13 special free events: the Tindo Utpurndee – Sunset Ceremony, Fringe Parade, Digital Walls, Street Art Explosion, Digital Arcade, Unfold Fringe in Rundle Mall, Desert Fringe in Port Augusta, Fringe in Goolwa, Fringe in Mount Gambier, Fringe at Westfield, Fringe at Adelaide Airport, Fringe at Flinders University and Fringe at the Port. Also the uneARTh Fringe in Whyalla is a free event that will be held over the Easter long weekend.
- More than 650,000 tickets sold – an increase of 9 per cent on last year’s record sales.
- 75,000 people lined King William St to watch the Fringe Parade on opening night.
- 178 festival directors and arts venue presenters participated in Honey Pot, a program to support directors to buy artists’ shows for their festivals.
- The Adelaide Fringe is the second largest fringe festival in the world behind Edinburgh.