More than 162 nominations were received for the 2021 awards, which were presented across 11 categories and follow a difficult two years for the sector after COVID-19 forced the cancellation or postponement of numerous shows and tours.

The State Theatre Company of SA and ActNow Theatre’s collaboration Decameron 2.0 – which was conceived during the first wave of the pandemic and brought together dozens of writers, actors, directors and other creatives to produce 100 theatrical monologues shared online over 10 weeks ­– won the award for best work or event outside a festival.

Best work or event within a festival went to the Art Gallery of SA’s extremely popular exhibition of works by Australian modernist painter Clarice Beckett, while the 2020 Adelaide Film Festival was named best festival. Patch Theatre’s Zooom ­– presented during DreamBIG Children’s Festival ­– took home the award for best work, event or project for young people, and Access2Arts’ The HeartBeat Club was named best regional or community event or project.

Gravity & Other Myths won the award for outstanding contribution by an organisation or group. It presented the sold-out acrobatic and choral spectacular The Pulse at Her Majesty’s Theatre during the 2021 Adelaide Festival and will also perform at the free outdoor opening event, Macro, at next year’s Festival.

Bryan Burroughs as Martin McKenna in The Boy Who Talked to Dogs. Photo: Jessica Zeng

A new award for best collaboration went to Slingsby Theatre Company and State Theatre Company SA, in association with Adelaide Festival and Dublin-based arts centre Draiocht, for The Boy Who Talked to Dogs, another hit of the 2021 AF which Slingsby recently announced will tour across Australia for six weeks in 2022.

Premier Steven Marshall acknowledged the resilience of the arts and cultural sector in the fact of challenging circumstances.

“I’m extremely proud to join with the sector and celebrate the achievements of some of our state’s most talented artists, whose important work continues to contribute to not only our state’s economy, but to the vibrancy and wellbeing of our community overall,” he said.

Marshall presented the Premier’s award for lifetime achievement to composer, playwright and artistic director Pat Rix, and dancer, choreographer and director Garry Stewart. Rix was the founding artistic director of Tutti Arts and retired this year after 24 years at the helm of the South Australian disability arts organisation, while Stewart last month presented his final work with Australian Dance Theatre after 22 years with the company.

“Pat has made an extraordinary contribution to the arts in South Australia through not only her accomplished career and significant body of work, but also through her dedication to the sector as a mentor and social change advocate,” Premier Marshall said.

“Garry’s acclaimed career has contributed to some of Australia’s most iconic dance works and under his direction placed Australian Dance Theatre at the forefront of dance around the world – having also nurtured the careers of some of the country’s leading artists.”

Other individual award winners were Restless Dance Theatre company manager Nick Hughes (Geoff Crowhurst Memorial Award), Indigenous cultural leader Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin (Stevie Gadlabarti Goldsmith Memorial Award) and young achiever Grace Coy (Frank Ford Memorial Young Achiever Award).

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