Adelaide Festival of Arts

Adelaide Festival of Arts

The Adelaide Festival of Arts is an arts festival held biennially in the South Australian capital of Adelaide. One of the world's greatest celebrations of the arts, it is internationally renowned and the pre-eminent cultural event in Australia. [cite web | last =Starick | first =Paul |accessmonthday =June 13 | accessyear =2006 | year =2006 | url =,5936,18505821%255E30877,00.html | title =Festival back as best in nation | date =2006-03-18 | publisher ="The Advertiser" ]

Begun in 1960, the Adelaide Festival is held in the autumnal month of March of every even-numbered year. It is actually made up of several events, but overall features include opera, theatre, dance, classical and contemporary music, cabaret, and new media.

The festival is based in the city-centre, principally in venues along the cultural boulevard of North Terrace, but also elsewhere in the city and its parklands. The Adelaide Festival Centre and River Torrens usually form the nucleus of the event, and in recent years Elder Park has played host to opening ceremonies. The success of the event is sometimes attributed to the city's unique design (known as Light's Vision) which provides many pleasant settings within short distance of each other.


The Adelaide Festival finds its origins in efforts by Sir Lloyd Dumas in the late 1950s to establish a major arts festival that would bring to South Australia world-class cultural exhibitions. In 1958, Sir Lloyd organised a gathering of prominent members of the Adelaidean business, arts and government community to gain support for such a festival. The proposal for an event similar to the Edinburgh International Festival was supported and members of the group formed the first Festival Board of Governors.

The event began to take form when Sir Lloyd partnered with John Bishop, Professor of Music at the University of Adelaide. The two gained the support of the Lord-Mayor and Adelaide City Council and a financial backing of fifteen thousand pounds.cite web | accessmonthday =June 13 | accessyear =2006 | year =2006 | url = | title =How it started | work =History of the Festival | publisher =Adelaide Festival of Arts ] A number of leading businesses sponsored the first festival including "The Advertiser", the Bank of Adelaide, John Martin & Co., the Adelaide Steamship Company, and Kelvinator.

The inaugural Adelaide Festival of Arts ran from March 12 - 26 in 1960 and was directed by Professor Bishop with some assistance from Ian Hunter, the Artistic Director of the Edinburgh Festival. There were 105 shows covering almost all aspects of the arts.

The Adelaide Festival continued to grow in successive years with the support of the South Australian Government. It has developed a number of incorporated events including Adelaide Writers' Week, the world's largest literary festival; WOMADelaide, an iconic world music festival; and, the Adelaide Festival of Ideas, an internationally renowned talkfest. It also spawned the Adelaide Fringe Festival which has become the largest event of its kind in the world after the Edinburgh Fringe. The Adelaide Festival of Arts is seen as a template for other arts festivals, and it is has been replicated to some extent by other Australian cities.


The Adelaide Festival has had 16 directors in its history, two of whom resigned and four of whom have directed the festival more than once. Anthony Steel holds the record for most stints as director, being at the head of 5 festivals. There were no directors for the festivals of 1966 and 1968, with an advisory board taking on the responsibility. Peter Sellars' brief directorship in 2001 before being replaced by Sue Nattrass remains the most controversial.


* Adelaide Writers' Week
** the world's largest literary festival.
* Artist's Week
* Universal Playground
* WOMADelaide
** held annually.
* Adelaide Festival of Ideas
** a sister event.


External links

* [ Adelaide Festival of Arts]
* [ WOMADelaide]
* [ Adelaide Festival Theatre]
* [ Adelaide Festival of Ideas]

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