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Adelaide Festival gets funding boost as Harvest Rock announces headline acts

The Adelaide Festival will receive a $2.3 million funding injection from the South Australian government over the next three years to attract big shows and performances to the city.

The money will come from the state’s Major Events Fund and will “bolster” the festival’s programs from 2024 to 2026, Premier Peter Malinauskas said.

“This festival enjoys a high-quality international reputation,” he said.

“It is the Adelaide Festival that is the pre-eminent arts and cultural festival in our nation.

“But if we want to ensure that lasts into the future we have to choose to invest more resources to operate in this competitive environment.”

The state government said this year’s festival had contributed an estimated $57.6 million economic benefit to South Australia, compared to $51.8 million in 2022.

Average spending per visitor and the number of nights stayed also increased, creating 324 full-time jobs, the government said.

An image of South Australia Premier Peter Malinauskas speaking.

Peter Malinauskas rejected suggestions that the state government was prioritising major sporting events.(ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)

Adelaide Festival artistic director Ruth Mackenzie described the investment as a “game changer”.

“It’s going to future-proof the position of Adelaide in the premier league of arts provision in the world,” she said.

“The cost of inviting large-scale, extraordinary, spectacular and beautiful international artists to Adelaide has gone up way above inflation, and the market is competitive.

“Artists have to choose where to go and they have to want to come to Adelaide.”

Mr Malinauskas rejected suggestions that the state government had recently prioritised major sporting events — such as the LIV Golf tournament and AFL Gather Round — over the arts.

“There are some who would try and say there’s a dichotomy, choosing between arts or sports,” he said.

“I think South Australia deserves its place on the world stage in respect to both.

“The arts actually has a role to play. It invites us to think about circumstances through the perspective of others … [and] that’s worthy of investment.”

An image of Ruth Mackenzie speaking to the media.

Ruth Mackenzie said the new funding would help attract artists at a time of increased competition.(ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)

Interstate media reports on Wednesday speculated the South Australian government was in the running to take the NRL Magic Round from 2025 onwards.

Mr Malinauskas would not comment on which events the government was looking to lure, but said it had “made some active decisions to invest” in a range of events.

“All of the decisions that we make to participate in a bidding process are underpinned by a degree of evidence about whether or not it stacks up,” he said.

Harvest Rock line-up unveiled

The line-up for Adelaide’s second Harvest Rock festival has been announced, with English electro-funk band Jamiroquai and American singer Beck set to headline the program with exclusive Australian performances at Rymill and King Rodney Parks. 

Last year’s event attracted 24,000 attendees, including almost 7,000 from interstate and overseas, and generated $16.5 million in estimated economic activity, according to the state government.

a big stage in a green field. the backdrop says MARLON WILLLIAMS and top banner says HARVEST ROCK

The inaugural Harvest Rock, which occurred on an unseasonably wet October weekend, still attracted 24,000 fans.(Supplied: Lauren Connelly)

The 2023 event will run on October 28 and 29 and will also include renowned Australian artists Paul Kelly, Flight Facilities and Baker Boy.

Festival organiser Secret Sounds said the quality of the lined-up would help to ensure the event continued to grow and broaden its audience.

“I think that the first year … people didn’t know the event,” Secrets Sounds co-CEO Jessica Ducrou said. 

“We’re hoping that the experience last year and the line-up this year will make it our biggest year yet.”

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