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Joyous Program Reviatalises the City

27 Sep

Media Release
Joyous Program Reviatalises the City

Brisbane Festival, Queensland’s most anticipated annual event, drew to a close last night after filling the city with hope, music and art for three weeks.

Emerging from six tumultuous months of COVID-19 concerns, Brisbane Festival succeeded in surprising and delighting the city from 4 – 26 September with a Boldly Brisbane program unlike any presented before.

The Festival hit the road to present performances in each of the city’s 190 suburbs; staged 573 performances across 244 locations; programmed 120 events, 101 of which were free; commissioned 28 brand-new works; and provided employment for a staggering 1002 local artists and arts workers. 

A much-welcomed return to live performance resulted in Brisbane Festival’s ticketed events selling out rapidly, some within hours and most within days, resulting in 95% of ticketed performances selling out and additional shows programmed to meet the demand. 

Brisbane Festival Artistic Director Louise Bezzina said beyond strong ticket sales and high audience participation figures, the Festival succeeded in bringing personal and human connection back to everyday life. 

“At the very heart of Brisbane Festival’s 2020 program was an unwavering belief that while physical distance was necessary, social connection was also absolutely vital,” Ms Bezzina said. 

“This year’s Festival combined creativity and careful planning to safely bring Brisbane together in a glorious celebration of the city, its people and the thousand artists involved.

“It was wonderful to hear music ring out through the suburbs and see families and communities enjoying the free live performance gift of Street Serenades in their neighbourhood.

“Brisbane Festival brought hope to the city with Messengers of Brisbane, artistry with Circa’s Leviathan and Australasian Dance Collective’s ARC, warmth with Hiromi Tango’s vivid companion works Brainbow Magic and Rainbow Circles (Healing Circles), beauty with Sunsuper Night Sky laser and light installation and sheer joy with the likes of The IsoLate Late Show LIVE, Cowboy and One Bottle Later.

“The inaugural Blak Curatorium shaped a powerful and poignant First Nations program that began with Jumoo, a symbolic smoking ceremony, and encompassed dance, storytelling and crucial conversation.

Brisbane Festival was just the tonic our city and state needed after the generation-defining world events of 2020.

“While creating such joy for our audiences, we were not afraid to take on some critical conversations and questions that needed to be interrogated.” 

Over three weeks, Brisbane Festival offered not just a beacon of hope to the city but a valuable economic lifeline to a community decimated by COVID-19.

South Bank hummed with activity, QPAC re-opened its doors, Brisbane Powerhouse returned as a key Festival performance hub, The Tivoli staged a slate of sold-out live concert events, Brisbane Showgrounds hosted drive-in dance work Throttle and Metro Arts opened the doors to its new West Village home. 

Over three weeks, Brisbane Festival offered not just a beacon of hope to the city but a valuable economic lifeline to a community decimated by COVID-19.

South Bank hummed with activity, QPAC re-opened its doors, Brisbane Powerhouse returned as a key Festival performance hub, The Tivoli staged a slate of sold-out live concert events, Brisbane Showgrounds hosted drive-in dance work Throttle and Metro Arts opened the doors to its new West Village home.

Brisbane Festival CEO Charlie Cush said he was confident the final economic impact data – due in October – would reflect the observations and anecdotal findings of the city’s business leaders.

“It was evident throughout September that, even in a time of physical distancing and gathering restrictions, the Festival drew people out of isolation, inspired them to safely explore their city and encouraged them to spend in the local economy,” he said.

Mr Cush praised the Festival’s dedicated team for delivering a safe and memorable event during a time of uncertainty and disruption. 

“Delivering a Festival during a pandemic is a testing process but for every challenge and setback, there was a moment of delight and a sense of achievement that more than atoned for the bumpy ride,” Mr Cush said.

“The success of 2020’s reimagined Brisbane Festival is due to the support of many: from audiences who embraced Louise’s Boldly Brisbane program to Brisbane Festival’s visionary Board to Queensland’s world-class artists whose work perfectly encapsulated this momentous period of our history.

“We extend our deep gratitude to our two government shareholders, our Principal Partner Sunsuper, our generous corporate partners and our philanthropic donors whose combined support enabled Brisbane Festival to present an accessible program where 84 per cent of events and productions were free.”

Brisbane Festival Board Chair Alison Smith said the success of Brisbane Festival 2020 was a testament to the efforts of Ms Bezzina, Mr Cush and their creative and committed team.

“My fellow board members and I are grateful for the continued support from our corporate partners, including our Principal Partner Sunsuper, and our Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council shareholders who helped us fill the city with art, music and celebration,” Ms Smith said.

“By being Boldly Brisbane and local in nature, these past few weeks of the Festival have shone a spotlight on the incredible depth of our city’s homegrown talent.

“It has also demonstrated the strong support for music and the arts that is at the heart of Brisbane’s DNA. Despite the challenging economic environment, Brisbane Festival still drew $1.55M cash and $2.29M of in-kind support throughsponsorship, grants and partnerships.

“We also extend our heartfelt gratitude to a community of incredibly generous donors who, through our Giving Program, contributed a record $555K of philanthropic support in this difficult pandemic year."


Brisbane Festival returns from 3 to 25 September 2021and its full program will be announced in mid-2021, pending ongoing COVID-19 challenges.

“This year has unequivocally demonstrated the wealth of our homegrown creative talent across performance, music and art,” Ms Bezzina said 

“Brisbane Festival will continue to embrace its Boldly Brisbane commitment in 2021 with new Australian work – including the much-anticipated world premiere of Boy Swallows Universe based on the award-winning debut novel by Brisbane storyteller Trent Dalton – to sit alongside world-class artists and, if circumstances permit, international productions.”

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