More funding needed to return Adelaide Fringe to pre-Covid levels of success

The Adelaide Fringe generated in excess of $30 of gross economic impact for every dollar provided by the South Australian Government, according to a new report by PwC Australia.

It also showed that for every ticket sold at Fringe, the SA Government invests approximately $3, while other major SA events analysed received between $10 and $100 of support per ticket sold.

With the harsh blow of the pandemic denting Adelaide Fringe’s momentum, and with PwC Australia’s modelling, the report showed that in this new economic environment the event will struggle to return to pre-COVID levels without increased investment.

The SA Government currently injects an annual $2.4 million into the Fringe, but with an additional $2 million a year – taking the annual operating grant to $4.4 million per year – it would allow the festival to rebound and continue delivering economic and social returns to the state that significantly exceed pre-COVID results.

If additional funds are secured, PwC Australia forecasts that Adelaide Fringe would deliver $160 million annual gross economic expenditure in South Australia by 2025.

This means for every $1 million of State Government funding, the Fringe would return almost $40 million of gross economic impact.

Adelaide Fringe director and CEO Heather Croall said that for the Fringe to continue to deliver a high return on investment to South Australia, additional support was needed.

“Adelaide Fringe is the largest festival in the Southern Hemisphere and we need to maintain SA’s competitive advantage in this area,” she said.

“We believe this PwC Australia report presents a compelling case on how to bounce back from COVID and return even more cultural, social and economic value to our state. With this, we have a plan of how we can build back better than ever before.”

Croall said there was also significant scope to increase ticket sales at Fringe and huge room for visitor growth.

“We aim to triple the number of tourists at our festival,” she said.

“The Fringe currently sells around half the available tickets in our annual inventory so there’s massive room for growth – Adelaide Fringe can grow to sell more than a million tickets each year, which would cement our position as the biggest festival in the Southern Hemisphere.”

Tourism Industry Council of South Australia CEO Shaun de Bruyn also backed the call for increased festival funding.

“TiCSA strongly supports increased investment into the Fringe as it will help grow tourism numbers and visitor expenditure to the state in February and March,” he said.

“There is huge potential to grow visitor numbers and ultimately create many new jobs during this period.”