Adelaide Festival advised subscribers and ticket holders last Friday that people aged 16 and over must show proof of COVID-19 double vaccination (or have an official medical exemption) to gain entry to a Festival event, including Writers’ Week. For shows at Adelaide Oval (opening-night event Macro and Icehouse’s Great Southern Land concert), the rule applies to those aged 12 and over.

The program for the March 4-20 Festival comprises more than 70 events featuring Australian and international artists. Interim executive director Kathie Massey told InReview yesterday that at this stage there had been no cancellations or changes due to the pandemic.

“We’re progressing as normal but obviously with a whole range of policies and procedures and actions to ensure we keep everyone as safe as possible,” she said. “It’s challenging but we’re taking it step by step.”

Under current pandemic restrictions, shows can only be sold to 75 per cent of venue capacity. Massey said ticket sales so far had been strong, with some sessions ­selling out ­– including for centrepiece opera The Golden Cockerel and the Chamber Landscapes concert series at UKARIA Cultural Centre. If capacity restrictions ease before the Festival begins, more tickets will be released.

“So far, ticket sales have been excellent… comparing tickets sales to date from last year to this year, they are actually better,” Massey said.

A number of international artists are coming to Adelaide for the 2022 Festival, including 38 dancers from across Africa who are performing in major dance double bill The Rite of Spring / common ground[s], but in announcing their program last year, artistic directors Rachel Healy and Neil Armfield said they had planned based on a “worst-case scenario”, with the international artists prepared to quarantine for 14 days if necessary.

Massey said all the international artists are still expected to get here, with staff working to ensure they meet vaccination and other requirements. “It adds another layer of complexity to what is already a complex situation… to date there have been lots of challenges but nothing that we have not been able to overcome or manage.”

Adelaide Festival has also ordered “a significant number” of rapid antigen tests and plans to introduce a rigorous program of testing and monitoring for artists, staff and volunteers.

The printed program for the 2022 Adelaide Fringe hits the streets today, following the launch last month of the online program featuring more than a thousand events across 350 venues.

Director and CEO Heather Croall said the official guide “really signifies the kick-off of Fringe”, with the open-access festival set to open on February 18.

“Tickets are selling very well and it is great to see such strong audience confidence,” she told InReview. “We encourage audiences to continue to buy tickets, and now that the guide has hit the streets all over the state, now is the perfect time to plan your Fringe.

“Compared to this time last year, ticket sales are up by over 200 per cent.”

Fringe artists Monski Mouse and Jack Evans and Annie Schofield from The Jack and Annie Show, with the 2022 Fringe guide. Photo: Nikki Sztioc

Croall said all Fringe venues will have COVID Management Plans or COVID Safe Plans that will determine the capacity of shows to ensure a COVID-safe Fringe is presented.

She told InReview a number of producers and presenters had contacted Fringe expressing concern about capacity limits and other COVID-related issues: “We are looking at what support funds could be put in place to give presenters confidence to proceed.

“We are in constant communication with artists, both locally and nationally, around their Fringe plans. We have an open line of communication to SA Health and the State Government and we are working to address the concerns being raised by Fringe participants.

“We will know more once the latest modelling comes through from the State Government regarding the Omicron peak and what restrictions will be in place for the performing arts industry by the time Fringe starts.”

Although Fringe hasn’t mandated that people must be fully vaccinated to attend events, some hubs and venues – including Gluttony, the Garden of Unearthly Delights and Holden Street Theatres – will require proof of double vaccination for entry.

The Garden of Unearthly Delights today released its full program for 2022, which features around 70 shows – slightly more than last year, but still down on pre-pandemic levels. It includes comedy heavyweights such as Dave Hughes, Sam Simmons, Wil Anderson, Judith Lucy and Denise Scott, as well as the return of risqué circus show Blanc de Blanc Encore and cabaret-drag-circus smorgasbord Smashed – The Brunch Party, new cabaret experience The Purple Rabbit, and vocal quartet Australian Vocal Ensemble (fronted by Katie Noonan).

Across the road, Gluttony has already announced a Fringe program of more than 140 shows in 2022, including the return of the popular light installation Borealis over Rymill Park Lake. It will also present new Fringe centrepiece Sky Songa collaboration between First Nations artists and drone art specialists Celestial that will be at the Adelaide Showground.

“We are working closely with authorities and SA Health to determine capacity – we will know more in a week or so,” Gluttony co-director Daniel Michael said yesterday, adding that its ticket sales were also ahead of last year.

“We are presenting Borealis and Sky Song, which are outside, and we also have the largest outdoor venue in Fringe, The Moa. In addition, our other outdoor venues will be made bigger.”

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