Brisbane Festival celebrates a record-breaking year in 2021

17 Dec

Brisbane Festival celebrates a record-breaking year in 2021

Delivering a Brisbane Festival that championed local artists and produced work distinctly of this place and time paid off with the annual celebration of arts and culture proving a huge success in 2021.

Brisbane Festival’s 2021 In Review report, released today, reveals how its Brightly Brisbane program smashed records, exceeded expectations, and broke new ground in 2021. 

Brisbane Festival reached an audience of 1.5M people from 3 – 25 September 2021, bringing 80,000 visitors to Brisbane and contributing to an estimated $36M in economic growth. 

While 70 per cent of the program was free – a direct response to a city recovering from the COVID pandemic – the Festival exceeded its 2021 box office target by 30 per cent, generating $2M in revenue. 

There were 128 sold-out performances across the Festival with Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe becoming the highest-selling show in Brisbane Festival history, its season extended three times for a six-week run at QPAC’s Playhouse seen by nearly 40,000 people.

Brisbane Festival Artistic Director Louise Bezzina said the 2021 Brightly Brisbane program was rooted in joy and optimism with the twin themes of community and celebration at its heart. 

“It was an honour and privilege to make and present live performances and experiences during these exceptional times including 17 brand new works, 16 world premieres and 16 First Nations-led productions,” Ms Bezzina said. 

“We felt a profound responsibility to support our artists, arts workers, venues and associated industries and I’m delighted the Festival engaged 43 Queensland companies, employed 1100 arts workers – including 155 First Nations artists – and welcomed 150 volunteers. 

Brisbane Festival filled the city with art, music and joy in 2021, performing in 222 locations across Brisbane and establishing two new popular Festival precincts at Northshore Hamilton and BOQ Festival Garden, incorporating South Bank Piazza.

Louise Bezzina
​Brisbane Festival Artistic Director

Festival favourite Sunsuper Riverfire made a dazzling return to the river city on Saturday 25 September 2021 with Channel 9’s telecast reaching a broadcast peak of 300,000 viewers and recording its highest average audience in five years of 272,000 people. 

Additional to the support of the Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council, Brisbane Festival reported a record year for philanthropic income in 2021, raising more than $720,000 from 283 donors. 

This represented an increase of $164,000 on 2020 donations and provided crucial funding for 13 program elements including Brisbane’s Art Boat, Let’s Be Friends Furever, Street Serenades, Ishmael, First Nations Fashion and Skyfall

Brisbane Festival also brokered 55 partnerships, 13 of which were new in 2021, including Bank of Queensland, Northshore Brisbane, Eagle Street Pier, Hyundai and Gallus. 

#2021 In Review

Brisbane Festival returns to fill the city with three weeks of wonder, delight and celebration from 2 — 24 September 2022.

Brisbane Festival is proudly supported by Brisbane City Council and the Queensland Government.  

Brisbane Festival expresses deep respect to and acknowledges the First People of this Country.