A record-breaking Darwin Festival comes to a close

Photo: The Modern Māori Quartet by Elise Derwin

The 2017 Darwin Festival (10-27 August) has drawn to a close following 18 record-breaking days and nights. This year’s electrifying program featured 599 performers, including 318 local NT artists, in 244 events, with more than 85,000 people attending shows in 30 venues across the city of Darwin.

The Festival achieved its highest overall ticket sales since 2013, with a 70% increase in gross box office receipts on last year’s sales. There was a staggering 75% increase in the number of tickets sold compared to 2016, with more than 36,500 tickets sold this year.

Delivering 87 sold-out performances, the Festival broke another record with 50% of shows sold out. Additional shows were put on to meet demand.

Darwin Festival recorded its two highest-grossing days in succession, representing a 42% increase on the previous record for a single day’s takings last set in 2014.

The Festival enjoyed a record level of corporate support with 23 brand-new partners joining in 2017. This year’s Festival was supported by a total of 58 corporate sponsors.

The PowerWater Volunteers Program saw a record 102 volunteers contribute to the event.

“The Aurora Spiegeltent, home to the seductive cabaret show BLANC de BLANC, was a huge hit, with multiple sold-out shows across 22 performances,” said Acting Artistic Director Felix Preval.

“Music best-sellers included The Modern Maori Quartet, Ali Barter, Australian band Tijuana Cartel and hip-hop duo A.B. Original.

“Sell-out theatre runs included A Prudent Man, the all-female production SHIT, and the moving Stolen Generation work, HART.

“Dance work Bodies Over Bitumen, Darwin’s storytelling favourite SPUN, and comedians Kuah Jenhan and Bron Batten were also sold-out performances,” he said.

“The City of Darwin Teddy Bears’ Picnic, held at the new location on The Esplanade, saw a sizable increase in families out with their picnics for a free day of entertainment in the CBD.

“Festival Park remained at the heart of our program. Visitors enjoyed the fantastic food, vibrant atmosphere and great free live entertainment each night.”

“The Board is delighted with this year’s achievements,” said Chair Ian Kew. “We commend the Festival team for their hard work in delivering this world-class event for Darwin and the Northern Territory.

“The Board and team thanks our funders, sponsors, partners and suppliers for their contribution to this year’s success.”

Preliminary research data reveals that one in four Festival visitors originate from outside Darwin.

“This is encouraging data,” said Executive Director Emily Mann. “25% of our visitors travelled to Darwin for August and the many fantastic cultural events on offer.

“This figure represents a doubling of our recorded out-of-town visitors from last year.

“Darwin Festival generates ambassadors for the Northern Territory. From our out-of-town visitors to our Friends of the Festival program, our volunteers and our visiting artists, we are creating fantastic ambassadorship and positive word of mouth for the Territory, guaranteeing new and return visitors in future years.

“It’s been such a magnificent comeback year for Darwin Festival. We extend a huge thanks to our artists, staff, suppliers and supporters, as well as to the record number of people who attended,” said Ms Mann.