Darwin Festival breaks sales record despite Covid-19

Darwin Festival 2020 has triumphed despite Covid-19, posting its highest proportion of sold-out shows in the event’s 41-year history.

The festival saw 98 per cent of shows sold out across 253 free and ticketed events over its 11-day program.

With travel restrictions preventing most planned interstate artists from attending, 94 per cent of the 396 artists performing were NT locals.

“We had a record number of sold-out shows last year, but it was nowhere near 98 per cent,” Darwin Festival artistic director Felix Preval told the NT News. “That’s not a statistics that any festival is pulling off.

“I think the response is really a testament to the desire in the Darwin community to see local artists celebrated and succeed, especially in acknowledgment of what a trying time it’s been for the creative sector. That, and people were looking for a reason, after a difficult few months, to come together and celebrate, and we’ve been fortunate enough up here for that to be possible.”

The festival introduced a number of coronavirus precautions including capped crowd numbers at Festival Park and the inclusion of online shows in the program for the first time.

Preval said the success of this year’s festival will change the way they engage with local artists in the future.

“It’s given us an opportunity to stand back and look constructively at how we run our event, and we’re very pleased we have been able to achieve what we have during a pandemic,” he said.

NT Major Events Company chief executive Tim Watsford said the organisers had “done a fantastic job kicking off the Top End’s delayed events season”.