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.