Brisbane Festival opens ‘thanks’ to Queensland’s pandemic management

Brisbane Festival 2021 has opened with a three-week program of performances and arts experiences culminating with the Sunsuper Riverfire spectacular.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said “no other city on the east coast of Australia” is in a position to hold an event of this scale at present.

“After a Covid-impacted program last year which meant a lot of the festival couldn’t go ahead including the fireworks, we are bringing this year’s festival back with a bang,” she said.

“Thanks to the way Queenslanders have managed this health pandemic, I’m pleased to say the show can go on.

“We know our arts industry has been one of the hardest hit during this global pandemic so to be able to showcase their unique stories and immerse audiences in the power and passion of the arts, is really special.”

This year’s festival will feature 139 productions presented in 220 locations across the city.

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said this year will be the festival’s largest-ever First Nations program with 157 First Nations artists participating across the 23-day event.

Brisbane Festival artistic director Louise Bezzina said the team had to constantly adapt as the situation changed to bring the festival to fruition.

“It has been a very crazy time … I did think this year might be a little bit easier, but it absolutely hasn’t,” she told the ABC.

“The minute you decide, ‘Oh I can’t do this’, it just falls apart – and that’s absolutely the opposite of what we want to give people.

“I think that it should give people a real sense of optimism, and I think that’s something we really need right now, is to feel optimistic that there are brighter days to come.”