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Early ticket sales drive Adelaide Fringe growth


Interstate and international visitors are helping to drive a surge in early ticket sales for the Adelaide Fringe.

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Ticket sales are up 30 per cent compared with the same time last year for the South Australian event, the second largest fringe festival in the world.

With one month remaining until the festival begins, Adelaide Fringe Director and CEO Heather Croall said the spike in ticket sales to tourists and locals was expected to level out to about 8 to 10 per cent as opening night neared.

She said the number of visitors to South Australia for the month-long Fringe had increased by 50 per cent in recent years to more than 20,000 last year.

“Our online presence is a lot stronger earlier this year and a lot of artists and venues are really getting on top of how to make some great noise on social media alongside the Adelaide Fringe channels and it’s getting a lot of traction,” Croall said.

“I think our profile in general is growing around the world so we’re confident those visitor numbers will continue to grow.

“The increase in sales are across the board – last Fringe about 13 per cent of our ticket sales were to tourists (about 90,000 tickets) and at the moment tourist sales are around 13 per cent as well.”

Box office revenue at the 2018 Adelaide Fringe reached A$16.6 million from 705,761 tickets sales – up 7 per cent – to further cement Adelaide Fringe’s position as the highest ticket selling arts festival in Australia and the second-largest Fringe in the world.

In 2017, Adelaide Fringe set targets of reaching 1 million ticket sales per year by 2022 and tripling the number of interstate and international visitors attending to from 13,500 in 2016 to 40,000.

Croall said attracting more tourists to Adelaide during the Fringe was a crucial part of their 1 million ticket goal.

She said unlike locals who generally worked during the week, tourists were available to attend matinees and mid-week performances.

Fringe Director Heather Croall with iconic South Australian television character Humphrey B Bear.

“With Adelaide being the size it is it’s a pretty amazing statistic that we do sell 700,000 tickets but if we can get more like 40,000 tourists coming in then it will be much easier for us to hit those ticket sales targets,” Croall said.

“We need to keep the growth up constantly over the next three or four Fringes and early indications look strong.

“We’re here for the Fringe to be an exciting cultural experience that Adelaide can be proud of but we do understand the critical role that audience growth plays for the sustainability of the artists and that’s why we need those tourists.”

South Australia is known as the Festival State and is home to 11 major annual festivals such as WOMADelaide, the Adelaide Festival, OZ Asia and the Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

According to the Live Performance Australia Survey, more than 50 per cent of all the multi-category festival tickets sold in Australia in 2016 were sold for South Australian festivals despite the state being home to just 1.7 million people – less than 8 per cent of Australia’s population.

The month-long Adelaide Fringe features 7000 artists across 1326 in 517 venues including a toilet, bus, vineyard and IKEA.

Croall said the 2019 Adelaide Fringe would be an “entertainment extravaganza” with significant growth in the genres of circus and physical theatre (up 44.4 per cent), interactive (up 44 per cent) and theatre (up 21.8 per cent).

“Each year we see more and more artists getting behind our fabulous festival and putting on an increasingly diverse range of shows so that Fringe-goers have an exciting assortment of events to choose from, including wonderfully unique experiences like a music performance on a hot air balloon and a play set in a caravan park,” she said.

The 2019 Adelaide Fringe kicks off on Friday, February 15, with a street party and the stunning Tindo Utpurndee Sunset Ceremony by the banks of the River Torrens.

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