Perth Festival 2021 boosted Western Australia’s social wellbeing, community pride and economy, a new report has found.
This year’s Festival attracted new audiences and played a vital role in supporting local artists and rebuilding community connections disrupted by COVID-19, according to analysts CultureCounts
Based on extensive Festival participant surveys and financial data, the Perth Festival 2021 Impact Report demonstrates the Festival’s significant public value as an investment in community wellbeing.
Reflecting the success of Lotterywest’s Covid-19 Relief Fund for the WA arts sector, the Festival presented 111 events including 44 new commissions and 18 world premiere productions.
As a catalyst for the arts and events industries, almost all the 1041 participating artists were from WA and the Festival paid $11.28 million into the pockets of local artists, workers, suppliers, and contractors.
Despite a sudden COVID-19 lockdown, a program rescheduled on the eve of the Festival and restrictions on venue capacities and mass gatherings, the Festival recorded attendances of 473,616 – led by the great success of Songlines at WA Museum Boola Bardip, which had nearly 238,000 visits.
This was the second Festival programmed by Artistic Director Iain Grandage, whose term has been extended by an extra year to enable him to deliver a fifth and final annual program in 2024.
Respondents also scored the event highly for enhancing social harmony, making them feel proud of Perth and better connected to their community.
The economic impact also was significant.
Despite a smaller program and reduced venue capacities, audiences spent $3 million at the box office and an extra $19.1 million on food, hospitality and associated activities.
The direct economic impact from spending by audiences, artists, and the Festival itself was $32 million.
This provided a flow-on benefit to people’s livelihoods and economic value to the State of $90.3 million, an increase from $84.7 million in 2020.
Despite unpredictable border restrictions, total tourism expenditure was $5.7 million (about half of the $11 million spent in 2020) and 11% of the 2149 unique out-of-state visitors said the Festival was the main reason they had come to Perth at all.
Festival Executive Director Nathan Bennett said the 2021 Impact Report confirmed that a Festival like ours helps turn groups of people into a community.
“We were very grateful to be able to present the 2021 program, one of the few to go ahead anywhere in the world over the past year,” Mr Bennett said.
“None of this would have been possible without the astonishing support of our donors and partners, including Founding Partner UWA and Principal Partner Lotterywest, whose Covid-19 Relief Fund has kept the arts afloat.
“With such strong partners working with us, we are deep in the dreaming and planning for next year and look forward to seeing everyone come together to celebrate our creativity as a community once again for Festival 2022.”
The Perth Festival Board has extended Artistic Director Iain Grandage’s four-year term by another year until 2024 in recognition of the excellent outcomes from his first two festivals in 2020 and 2021.
It also gives Grandage the opportunity to build thematically on his original 2020-2023 Festival vision, whose scope and scale has been impacted by COVID-19.
Perth Festival returns from 11 February to 6 March, 2022. Look out for the program announcement later this year.