The 17-day Festival comprised 70 events, with few international artists or shows due to the pandemic but a record 14 Australian premieres and 18 events exclusive to Adelaide.

Results announced this morning show it has already surpassed its box office target of $2.77 million, with 60,958 tickets sold so far, despite the impact of border closures and venues operating at only 50 to 75 per cent of their usual capacity. At the same time last year the Festival had sold 81,446 tickets across 73 events to achieve total box office income in excess of $5.3 million (all figures exclude WOMADelaide).

Adelaide Festival executive director Elaine Chia said the 2021 Festival had required a leap of faith by everyone involved, including artists, arts companies, sponsors and ticket buyers.

“Not only have we surpassed our box office target in the most trying of times, but attendance across the festival was incredible, our interstate visitors remained steadfast and responses from audiences have been phenomenal,” she said.

Sold-out 2021 shows include Gravity & Other Myths’ acrobatic spectacular The Pulse, performed at Her Majesty’s Theatre over eight sessions with the 30-strong Aurora choir; film premiere My Name is Gulpilil; Restless Dance Theatre’s Guttered; Slingsby and State Theatre Company SA co-production The Boy Who Talked to Dogs, First Nations food series Ngarku’adlu, and many of the chamber music experiences at UKARIA Cultural Centre.

The highest-selling shows were the centrepiece opera A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Pulse, solo theatre performance A German Life,  musical Fangirls and Sydney Dance Company’s Impermanence (performed with the Australian String Quartet). Free installation The Plastic Bag Store, by New York City artist Robin Frohardt, attracted more than 12,000 people across the Festival.

Gravity & Other Myths’ sold-out Adelaide Festival show The Pulse. Photo: Darcy Grant

Joint artistic directors Neil Armfield and Rachel Healy said “had-to-be-there moments” included pop star Jessica Mauboy’s opening night concert at Adelaide Oval, The Pulse, the intimate 1:1 Concerts series curated by flautist Sally Walker, and the series of European theatre, music and dance performances live-streamed to Her Majesty’s Theatre.

“The relief and wonder at being able to gather together to experience memorable, thrilling live performing arts was as much in evidence for the performers as it was for the capacity audiences,” the pair said in a statement.

“So many extraordinary artists and companies who have desperately missed the opportunity to perform for audiences were met by local and visitor audiences who masked-up and received their work with gratitude and joy.”

The Adelaide Festival continues across this weekend, with the program including:

A German Life (Dunstan Playhouse): Australian actor Robyn Nevin plays Brunhilde Pomsel, who was personal secretary to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. Read InReview’s review here.

High Performance Packing Tape (AC Arts): A physical theatre show performed with everyday office supplies. Read InReview’s review here.

Supernature (Her Majesty’s Theatre): Premiere of the latest work by Australian Dance Theatre director Garry Stewart. Read CityMag’s interview with Stewart here.

S/WORDS and Unfolding (Space Theatre): A double bill by young South Australian choreographer Lewis Major. Read InReview’s interview with him here.

Live music gigs at the Summerhouse Festival hub: Including multi-disciplinary artist George Maple, ARIA Award-nominated musician Mo’Ju, and a Sunday night hip-hop finale with Ziggy Ramo, JK-47, J- MILLA and Jimblah.

Major Festival installations Race Cards (Institute Building, State Library of SA) and The Plastic Bag Store (level one, Rundle Place) also both continue until Sunday. You can read InReview’s reviews of them here and here.

All InReview’s 2021 Adelaide Festival coverage can be found here.

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This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.