Sydney Festival director has contract extended after attendance success

sydney festival
Sydney Festival director Olivia Ansell has had her contract extended to 2025. Photo: Sydney Festival

Olivia Ansell will helm Sydney Festival for another year until 2025 after this year’s successful festival which saw a huge spike in attendance figures compared with 2022.

This year’s Sydney Festival in January saw 420,234 people attend, compared with 284,376 in 2022, which was hampered by continuing Covid restrictions and sponsorship controversy over an event funded by the Embassy of Israel.

“We were coming on the back of three challenging years with not just the two years of the pandemic, but also the bushfires before that which impacted air quality in Sydney,” Ansell told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“But in 2023 people had reached fever pitch in wanting to get out and enjoy summer in their city – they may have been late to buying tickets because people were waiting to make sure they did not have COVID or the borders weren’t closed, but a lot of people bought tickets on the spur of the moment.”

Ansell is currently developing next year’s festival program.

“It’s been an honour to rejuvenate the city post-pandemic and to continue to work with artists both locally and internationally to restore their livelihoods and work to amplify the character of this city,” she said.