Good News Story - Perth Festival boosts Skills, Economy and Vibrancy

Australia’s longest-running arts festival is right here in Perth and it is set to help lead the post-pandemic revitalisation of our city.

Perth Festival is dedicated to re-energising the local arts and events sector, rebuilding community confidence and providing an international platform to share Western Australia’s unique stories.

The 2021 Festival will have a strong WA focus and will invest in and support local artists, companies, venues and suppliers severely affected by the COVID-19 shutdown this year.

This follows the great success of last summer’s event, whose public value and contribution to our city has been measured in the Festival’s 2020 Impact Report by analysts Culture Counts.

The widely acclaimed opening week of entirely First Nations performances, the first for any major Australian international arts festival, was a major highlight. So too were the exciting new City of Lights entertainment hub at Perth Concert Hall and the huge free closing event Highway to Hell along Canning Highway.

The 2020 Festival, which attracted attendances of 413,000 and wrapped up just before the COVID-19 closure, was a huge boost to Perth’s social well-being, creative economy and hospitality industry.

Of more than 5,000 survey respondents, the vast majority said the Festival enhanced their pride in Perth and connection to their community. Respondents rated the Festival an outstanding platform for Indigenous culture, authentic local stories and exciting collaborations between WA and international artists.

Festival 2020 – the first of four from Artistic Director Iain Grandage – also stimulated the economy on a major scale. Direct impact from spending by audiences, artists and the Festival was $30.3 million, up 60% from 2019, and the flow-on economic impact to the State was $84.7 million.

Key results included:

  • 97% of people said the Festival played an important role in WA’s cultural life
  • 93% backed the Festival’s investment in developing local artists’ skills and opportunities
  • More than 75% of the 2,300 Festival artists were from WA
  • $10.8 million was paid to local artists, suppliers and contractors
  • Festival-goers spent $54 each on hospitality and other activities, apart from buying tickets
  • Total tourism expenditure was $11 million (up 85 from last year) and 28% of out-of-State attendees said the Festival was the main reason they came to Perth
  • 42% of the 145,000 people at Highway to Hell were newcomers to the Festival
  • Traders along Canning Highway doubled their daily turnover due to Highway to Hell

The impact of the 2020 Festival demonstrates the capacity of cultural events to drive innovation, education, civic activation, tourism and economic growth.

Perth Festival was founded by the University of Western Australia in 1953 during the wave of social and economic reconstruction following World War II. Now, it is well-placed to be a beacon that signals recovery, a return to shared experiences and joyful community in Perth, the City of Lights.

You can read the full report here: Perth Festival 2020 Impact Report

Acknowledgement of Country

The Committee For Perth acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.