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AF Annual Report 2020-21 content


2020-21 Annual Report


Level 9, 33 King William St, Adelaide SA 5000
Contact phone number: +61 (8) 8216 4444
Contact email:
ISSN: 0431
Date presented to Minister: 30 September 2021


Hon Steven Marshall MP Premier of South Australia

Dear Premier
This annual report will be presented to Parliament to meet the statutory reporting requirements of the Adelaide Festival Corporation Act 1998 and the requirements of Premier and Cabinet Circular PC013 Annual Reporting.

This report is verified to be accurate for the purposes of annual reporting to the Parliament of South Australia.

Submitted on behalf of the Adelaide Festival Corporation by:

Elaine Chia Executive Director
Adelaide Festival Corporation
Date 21-Sep-2021

From the Executive Director

The 2021 Adelaide Festival was successfully presented in full despite the many challenges and changing landscape due to COVID-19. Over 17 days from 26 February to 14 March, the Festival achieved artistic acclaim through a mix of local, national and international productions, attracting an audience of more than 160,800 (including WOMADelaide).

This was the fifth Festival presented by Joint Artistic Directors Neil Armfield AO and Rachel Healy.

The 2021 Adelaide Festival offered 70 events and 896 performances across opera, music, dance, theatre, literature and visual arts, encompassing festivals-within-the- Festival: Adelaide Writers’ Week, Chamber Landscapes at UKARIA and WOMADelaide. There were 10 world premieres and 16 Australian premieres, with 18 events exclusive to Adelaide.

Sold out events including The Pulse by South Australian company Gravity & Other Myths, the Live from Europe performance of Eugene Onegin, Ngarku’adlu fine-dining dinners at the South Australian Museum, the world premiere of the documentary My Name is Gulpilil at the Adelaide Festival Theatre, the 1:1 CONCERTS in locations around Adelaide, and many concerts in the Chamber Landscapes series at UKARIA.

Despite operating at reduced venue capacity, the Festival sold 60,958 tickets and generated an estimated gross expenditure of $42.5 million for South Australia.
Festival shows were also seen by audiences in regional South Australia through a partnership with Country Arts SA which saw performances livestreamed to Renmark, Port Pirie, Mount Gambier and Whyalla.

Free events were again a staple of the Adelaide Festival program and as always were very well attended with more than 66,000 visitors taking advantage of concerts, exhibitions and installations. The Plastic Bag Store by artist Robin Frohardt, the environmental public art installation coming from New York’s Times Square to Adelaide’s Rundle Mall attracted over 12,000 visitors across the festival. Other free events included the Opening Weekend Concert with Jessica Mauboy; Birmingham- based performer Selina Thompson’s Race Cards at the Institute Building, and Breakfast with Papers and Festival Forums.

Adelaide Writers’ Week which ran from 27 February to 4 March was the third for director Jo Dyer. One hundred and forty-four writers, poets, journalists, historians, scientists, politicians, academics and chairs from around the world came together live and virtually across the six days of free open-air readings, panel sessions and literary conversations. Live streaming into libraries, schools, retirement villages and nursing homes saw an increase in the number of organisations who participated in 2021 (up 34% from 2020).

The Adelaide Festival schools program saw a total of 4,545 students from 64 different schools across South Australia including five regional schools, two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander schools and three tertiary institutions (NIDA students from Sydney, The University of Adelaide Creative Arts students and

Adelaide Central School of Art). Eleven disadvantaged schools accessed 300 tickets through the Tix For Next To Nix program.

Corporate partnerships and philanthropic support have again significantly contributed to the success of the Festival, with 37 sponsors and over 500 donors making up 15% of total revenue. This was an especially pleasing result given the challenging economic conditions of the past year.

The Festival attracted 4,690 visitors from interstate resulting in 35,301 visitor nights. Total new expenditure in South Australia related to the Festival was $18.6 million while net impact or newly created incomes on the Gross State Product is estimated at $23.5 million including the creation of the equivalent of 218 full time jobs.

Whilst the overall quantitative results are lower than in the previous (pre-pandemic) year, the results clearly demonstrate the continued strength and reputation of the Festival in delivering social, cultural and economic returns for South Australia.

Elaine Chia Executive Director Adelaide Festival


Overview: about the agency
Our strategic focus

Our Purpose:
The Adelaide Festival, established in 1960, is recognised as one of the world’s most prestigious large-scale, multi-arts festivals.
Its aim is to create and present an annual festival program that connects the works of local, national and international artists with audiences, stimulates community engagement and celebrates the transformative power of the arts.


Our Vision:
To be one of the world’s most celebrated arts festivals, pursuing new creative horizons, enthralling audiences, and placing Adelaide at the centre of Australia’s cultural life.


Our Values:
We value creative ambition, virtuosity, and the ability of artists to innovate.

Our Festival seeks to reflect our society through the arts. We fearlessly engage with big ideas and broker connections between artists and the communities we serve.

Adelaide Festival experiences will resonate for a lifetime. They will affect the way our culture grows.

Our business practices are based on trust, respect and collaboration with our stakeholders; our organisation reflects the rich diversity of our country, and the primacy of its First Nations people.

Our actions demonstrate our commitment to social, environmental and economic sustainability.


Our functions, objectives and deliverables:
Artistic Inspiration
Goal: To present a multi-arts program that speaks to our times and offers audiences the transformative power of the arts.
Adelaide Experience
Goal: To have a transformative cultural impact on our city.
National Market and Cultural Tourism
Goal: To attract artists and audiences from across Australia and around the world.

Audience Growth, Accessibility and Diversity
Goal: To attract and inspire a growing and more diverse audience.
Adelaide Festival (Organisation)
Goal: To invest in the capabilities of the organisation to ensure it is fit for the future.


Our organisational structure


Changes to the agency

During 2020-21 there were the following changes to the agency’s structure and objectives as a result of internal reviews or machinery of government changes.

  • To address the need to better engage with Adelaide Festival stakeholders and audiences, a new Customer Experience department was established in April 2021.


Our Minister

The Hon Steven Marshall MP is the Premier of South Australia. The Minister oversees:
Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation
Defence and Space Industries
The Arts
Veterans’ Affairs
Multicultural Affairs

Our Executive Team

Neil Armfield AO – Joint Artistic Director with Rachel Healy, responsible for curating and developing the annual Festival program.
Rachel Healy – Joint Artistic Director with Neil Armfield, responsible for curating and developing the annual Festival program.
Elaine Chia – Executive Director, responsible for managing the Corporation.

Legislation administered by the agency

Adelaide Festival Corporation Act 1998

The agency’s performance

Performance at a glance

The 2021 Adelaide Festival, curated by Artistic Directors Neil Armfield AO and Rachel Healy, was a remarkable result for the Festival and the state. During a global pandemic the full 17 day Festival was able to proceed unimpeded, reaching new audiences including those in regional South Australia.

The 2021 Festival offered 70 events in theatre, music, opera, dance, film, writing and visual arts, along with its festivals-within-the-Festival: Adelaide Writers’ Week, Incredible Floridas: Chamber Landscapes at UKARIA, and WOMADelaide. Altogether it comprised 10 world premieres, 14 world premieres and 18 events exclusive to Adelaide.

A total audience of 160,800 attended Adelaide Festival events (including WOMADelaide). The Festival has sold 60,958 tickets, across 70 events and 896 performances. The accessibility of the Festival was again increased with more than 66,000 visitors taking advantage of free events, and through the generosity of the Balnaves Foundation a record 1500 tickets were made available through the Open House program which encompassed Pay What You Can and Tix for Next to Nix initiatives.

The 2021 Adelaide Festival by numbers:
$42.5 million gross expenditure generated for South Australia
$18.6 million new expenditure in South Australia
$23.5 million net impact on the Gross State Product 4690 visitors to the state
35,301 visitor bed nights
218 jobs (full time equivalent)
70 events 896 performances (includes 95 Writers’ Week sessions + Kids’ day +YA day and 140 WOMADelaide performances)
10 world premieres and 16 Australian premieres 18 events exclusive to Adelaide
847 artists from 22 countries

Agency response to COVID-19
The Adelaide Festival provided strategic input to support the national arts and cultural sector’s response to COVID-19 and worked closely with SA Health throughout the year to achieve several COVID-safe protocols to successfully produce and present live performance events.

Agency contribution to whole of Government objectives

Key objective - More jobs:
Agency’s contribution
More jobs The Festival has a core staff of 26. For the six months leading up to the 2021 Festival a further 30 staff were added. During the festival period, over 200 staff and artists are directly employed. The Economic Impact Study commissioned by the Festival shows that the Festival created the equivalent of 218 full time jobs.

Key objective - Lower costs:
Agency's contribution
The Festival has a rigorous procurement system with monthly forecast of expenditure across all department and regular reporting to the Audit and Risk Committee. The purchase order system allows managers of budgets to monitor actual spend against budget prior to approval.

Key objective - Better Services:
Agency's contribution 
The Festival initiated several new initiatives to ensure more South Australians had access to festival events, including a livestream performing arts series to regional SA. Adelaide Writers’ Week was similarly livestreamed to libraries, nursing homes and schools.

Program information was made freely available and delivered to ticket buyers via digital daybills.

The Festival continued its status as the only Australian major international multi-arts festival to be certified carbon neutral and encourages all artists and audiences to reduce their carbon footprint.

Agency specific objectives and performance

Agency objective: To present a multi-arts program that speaks to our times and offers audiences the transformative power of the arts

Multi-arts performances and events that speak to contemporary issues

Maintain commitment to programming major centrepiece events, and works of varying scale including large scale free events

Collaborate with international and national partners

Ensure local creativity and participation

Commission and present First Nation arts and artists

In 2021, the Adelaide Festival presented:

  • Major centrepiece events in opera, theatre and physical theatre
  • 70 events including 7 free events and Adelaide Writers’ Week
  • 896 performances
    10 world premieres
    16 Australian premieres including with national partners Sydney Festival, Sydney Dance Company and Belvoir
  • Over 300 South Australian artists

First Nations artists featured in Ngarku’adlu events, My Name is Gulpilil (with Adelaide Film Festival), and First Nations artists’ performance in The Summerhouse.

Agency objective: To have a transformative cultural impact on our city

Program across a diversity of locations including non-traditional spaces

Outdoor spaces activated

Festival events across 30 Adelaide locations including Adelaide Festival Centre, UKARIA Cultural Centre and non-traditional spaces in Rundle Place, Carrick Hill grounds, Kingpin Norwood and Adelaide Oval scoreboard

Adelaide Writers’ Week at Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden, Ngarku’adlu picnics at Barr Smith Lawns, Adelaide University and Small Metal Objects at Moseley Square, Glenelg.

Agency objective: To attract artists and audiences from across Australia and around the world

Maintain exclusivity of core high-profile events, including opera

Adelaide seen as a focal point for tourists in March

Position the festival as a key contributor to Adelaide’s status as a UNESCO City of Music

18 events exclusive to Adelaide

4,690 interstate visitors resulting in 35,301 visitor bed nights

Music a key component of the 2021 Festival with Chamber Landscapes: Incredible Floridas at UKARIA Cultural Centre, A Child of Our Time at the Festival Theatre, 1:1 CONCERTS across various new locations in Adelaide and Adelaide Hills, and contemporary music at the new venue Adelaide Festival Summerhouse.

Agency objective: To attract and inspire a growing and more diverse audience.

Engage audiences across age groups, demographics and diverse cultures

Develop new pilot programs that identify and remove barriers to participation

Develop and grow youth and education programs

Events such as Ngarku’adlu picnics and Fangirls attracted audiences across a broad demographic, including many younger audiences

Open House program supported by The Balnaves Foundation provided over 1,500 tickets across Tix For Next To Nix and Pay What You Can

New initiatives in providing access for 1:1 CONCERTS for Hutt St Centre and Catherine House clients

Education program reached 64 schools across South Australia including five regional schools, two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Schools and three tertiary institutions.

Agency objective: To invest in the capabilities of the organisation to ensure it is fit for the future

Embed effective management and governance

Cultivate positive and proactive team culture supported by efficient systems

Develop Sustainability Program

2021 Adelaide Festival achieved small surplus

Implementation of new CRM, event scheduling and rostering systems

Maintained Adelaide Festival carbon neutral certification.


Corporate performance summary

In 2021, the Festival achieved a total box office income of $3.538 million. Festival events attracted 160,800 attendances (including Festival Shows, and un-ticketed events such as Adelaide Writers Week). The program provided opportunities for 847 artists.

The Government percentage contribution to the Festival income was an increase above 50%. While the South Australian Government’s overall contribution to the Festival Program was slightly reduced, it represented 54% of total income. This was due to a reduction of box office income by 31% because of COVID-19 restrictions on audience numbers.


Employment opportunity programs

Aboriginal ArtsReady Traineeship Program
Performance: The trainee hired the previous financial year went on to secure full time employment in the arts. However due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Adelaide Festival deemed it would be unfair and unreasonable to a new trainee to have a lesser experience under these circumstances. Adelaide Festival plans to resume the program when it is safe and reasonable to do so.

Adelaide University internships
Performance: As above. Adelaide Festival plans to resume the program when it is safe and reasonable to do so.

NIDA secondments
Performance: As above. Adelaide Festival plans to resume the program when it is safe and reasonable to do so.


Agency performance management and development systems

Six Monthly Review
Performance: FTE staff undertake six monthly review and regular informal and formal feedback.

Post-performance review training plans
Performance: Through the review process all staff can discuss future training prospects and access to job improvement programs.

Work health, safety and return to work programs

I-Learn Training
Performance: All staff are inducted with workplace WH&S and government requirements.

First Aid
Performance: There are three First Aiders in the organisation, as well as one Floor Manager and two Fire Wardens. The organisation currently has three Mental Health First Aiders.

DPC Committee
Performance: The Head of Corporate Services is a member of the DPC WHS Committee Arts Sector, looking at exposure to risks from an arts industry perspective to identify and document risks that Government would not normally be exposed to.

Workplace injury claims

Total new workplace injury claims
Current year 2020-2021: 6 minor
Past year 2019-2020: 6 minor
% change (= / -): 0%

Current year 2020-2021: 0
Past year 2019-2020: 0
% change (= / -): 0%

Seriously injured workers*
Current year 2020-2021: 0
Past year 2019-2020: 0
% change (= / -): 0%
*number of claimants assessed during the reporting period as having a whole person impairment of 30% or more under the Return to Work Act 2014 (Part 2 Division 5)

Significant injuries (where lost time exceeds a working week, expressed as frequency rate per 1000 FTE)
Current year 2020-2021: 0
Past year 2019-2020: 0
% change (= / -): 0%

Work health and safety regulations

Number of notifiable incidents (Work Health and Safety Act 2012, Part 3)
Current year 2020 -2021: 0
Past year 2019-2020: 0
% Change (+ / -): 0%

Number of provisional improvements, improvement and prohibition notices (Work Health and Safety Act 2012 Sections 90, 191 and 195) 
Current year 2020 -2021: 0
Past year 2019-2020: 0
% Change (+ / -): 0%


Return to work costs**

Total gross workers compensation expenditure
Current year 2020 -2021: 0
Past year 2019-2020: 0
% Change (+ / -): 0%

Income support payments - gross ($)
Current year 2020 -2021: 0
Past year 2019-2020: 0
% Change (+ / -): 0%

**before third party recovery

Data for previous years is available at:


Executive employment in the agency

Executive classification
Non Public Service executives: 3
Heads of Departments: 7

Data for previous years is available at:


The Office of the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment has a workforce information page that provides further information on the breakdown of executive gender, salary and tenure by agency.


Financial performance
Financial performance at a glance

The following is a brief summary of the overall financial position of the agency. The information is unaudited. Full audited financial statements for 2020-2021 are attached to the original report.

​Consultants disclosure

The following is a summary of external consultants that have been engaged by the agency, the nature of work undertaken, and the actual payments made for the work undertaken during the financial year.

Data for previous years is available at:

See also the Consolidated Financial Report of the Department of Treasury and Finance for total value of consultancy contracts across the South Australian Public Sector.


Contractors disclosure

The following is a summary of external contractors that have been engaged by the agency, the nature of work undertaken, and the actual payments made for work undertaken during the financial year.

Contractors with a contract value below $10,000

All contractors below $10,000 each - combined
Purpose: N/A
$ Actual payment: N/A

Contractors with a contract value above $10,000 each

Total $ 802,320

Data for previous years is available at:

The details of South Australian Government-awarded contracts for goods, services, and works are displayed on the SA Tenders and Contracts website. View the agency list of contracts.

The website also provides details of across government contracts.


Risk management
Risk and audit at a glance

The Audit and Risk Committee met six times in the financial year and the Committee are satisfied that all reporting and statutory requirements of the Festival have been met.

Fraud detected in the agency

Category/nature of fraud: None detected
Number of instances: 0

NB: Fraud reported includes actual and reasonably suspected incidents of fraud.

Strategies implemented to control and prevent fraud

The Fraud and Corruption Policy was reviewed and adopted by the Board in June 2020 and 2021. The Adelaide Festival Corporation has in place internal control procedures to minimise the risk of fraud, corruption and other criminal conduct, misconduct and maladministration. The objectives of this policy are to:

  • demonstrate that the Adelaide Festival Corporation has a zero tolerance to fraud and corruption;
  • ensure management, employees, contractors, volunteers, and suppliers of goods and services to the Adelaide Festival Corporation understand their responsibilities to mitigate against fraud and corruption;
  • ensure there is a clear process for management, employees and other stakeholders to follow when fraud or corruption is suspected or detected; and
  • assist the South Australian Police in the investigation and prosecution of suspected fraudsters

The Adelaide Festival Corporation always requires that all staff act with honesty and integrity and to safeguard the public resources for which they are responsible. All Adelaide Festival Corporation employees are required to understand and adhere to the Code of Conduct for South Australian Public Sector Employees and the South Australian Public Sector Fraud and Corruption Control Policy.

The Code of Conduct outlines the underlying principles of respect, integrity, accountability and ethical decision making that is expected from Adelaide Festival Corporation employees.

The Policy is designed to assist public sector agencies in the prevention, detection and response to activities labelled or defined as fraud or corruption, other criminal conduct, misconduct and maladministration within the sector.

As a part of its responsibility for ensuring the values of integrity and honesty are upheld, the Adelaide Festival Corporation is committed to the prevention, detection and reduction of fraud and corruption by establishing a fraud and corruption prevention culture throughout all levels of the Organisation.

The Adelaide Festival Corporation will pursue all suspected acts of fraud, corrupt practices or other similar malpractices and report to the police as required by state government policy and the law.

Data for previous years is available at:


Public interest disclosure

There were no occasions on which public interest information has been disclosed to a responsible officer of the agency under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2018:


Data for previous years is available at:

Note: Disclosure of public interest information was previously reported under the Whistleblowers Protection Act 1993 and repealed by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2018 on 1/7/2019.


Reporting required under any other act or regulation

Act or Regulation: N/A
Requirement: N/A

Adelaide Festival Corporation Act 1998

Reporting required under the Carers’ Recognition Act 2005

The organisation is aware of its obligations under section 6 of the Carers' Recognition Act 2005. For the period of the 2020-21 financial year there was no person or body contracted with the organisation to provide relevant services under the Act.

The organisation continues to support Companion Card to allow cardholders companion free entry into participating venues and events.


Public complaints
Number of public complaints reported

Data for previous years is available at:

Service Improvements

A great majority of complaints received were regarding the mandated wearing of masks in theatres or dissatisfaction with other various COVID restrictions placed on customers during the Festival. Many of the other complaints were intended for third party organisations such as venues, ticketing providers, catering providers, carparking stations etc.

The Festival has, however, recently purchased a license to run a good proportion of its own ticketing in the future so the service level provided for the proportion that we will be selling ourselves, will be more under our control.

Compliance Statement

Adelaide Festival Corporation is compliant with Premier and Cabinet Circular 039 – complaint management in the South Australian public sector: Y
Adelaide Festival Corporation has communicated the content of PC 039 and the agency’s related complaints policies and procedures to employees: Y