PERTH, WE SALUTE YOU. THAT’S A WRAP FOR 2020
“Perth Festival’s finale Highway to Hell was an AC/DC size hit” – Simon Collins, The West Australian
Our summer celebration of place and people culminated in an epic finale on Sunday when tens of thousands of people reclaimed Canning Highway as a massive community carnival ground. After the Highway to Hell trucks rock ’n’ rolled into the Fremantle sunset in tribute to favourite son Bon Scott, American gospel sensation Mavis Staples lit up the Chevron Lighthouse to bring three weeks of extraordinary Perth Festival performances to a rapturous close.
Celebrating 67 years as Australia’s longest-running curated arts event, Perth Festival’s success in tandem with Fringe World proudly confirms Perth as one of the world’s great festival cities.
Audiences, artists and the media acclaimed Perth Festival 2020 as an outstanding platform for Indigenous culture, exciting international world-premieres and collaborations and as a destination event for locals and tourists alike.
Ticket sales were strong across all program areas, led by intense audience demand for the Indigenous performance program of the opening week – a first for any major Australian international arts festival and a celebration of Australia’s unique voice in the world.
‘I am thrilled with how audiences from near and far have responded to the power, breadth and quality of the Indigenous presentations in our first week these works form our cultural bedrock, and audiences revelled in that sense of connection,’ Festival Artistic Director Iain Grandage says.
An estimated 150,000 people – plus more than 1000 artists and nearly 1000 event staff and volunteers – turned Canning Highway into a 10km-long celebration of Perth and the 40th anniversary of AC/DC frontman Bon Scott’s final rest.
Highway to Hell followed in the enormous footsteps of past Perth Festival outdoor spectacles like The Giants in the Perth CBD in 2015 and Boorna Waanginy in Kings Park in 2017 and last year.
And we are proud to say Perth now holds the World Record for the Biggest Air Guitar Ensemble; beating the previous record of 2377 with 3722 people shredding the air at Tompkins Park.
‘Highway to Hell has been a resounding international success, attracting Bon Scott devotees from across the globe and tapping into that little bit of Bon in all of us,’ Grandage says. ‘This crazy idea was turned into amazing reality with the immense backing of the State Government, local councils and other supporters.
‘This is a city that celebrates like few others. The happiness on Canning Highway during Highway to Hell was unmistakable, unmissable. This was our city, our story, our Bon Scott, and the music helped us dance into the sunset.’
More than 230 free and ticketed Festival events were held across theatre, music, dance, opera, film, visual arts and literature.
The 2020 Perth Festival is on track to meet its overall box-office target of $5.5 million for a program that champions our unique place and stories. Venue capacities were up 21% in dance, 7% in theatre and the film program is on track to be the most successful since 2016. Full Festival attendances won’t be known for some time with several weeks of the 2020 film and visual arts program still to run.
The Black Swan State Theatre Company of WA/Malthouse Theatre hit production of Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet is playing at His Majesty’s Theatre until 15 March and our extensive Lotterywest Films program runs through until 5 April.
‘We were proud to present a series of collaborations between international artists and local performers. Colossus, Leviathan, Hofesh in the Yard, Fidelio and Ancient Voices all featured extraordinary local performers matching skills alongside international superstars,’ Grandage says. ‘They made my heart sing.’
‘A Festival like this is simply not possible without significant investment from other organisations. Our success is owned by many people and we look forward to many more Festivals alongside them.
‘I am thrilled with how people from near and far have responded so enthusiastically to the 2020 Festival. We have had audiences and artists from around the world join us here in Perth for three glorious weeks to revel in our culture, creativity and connections with one another. ‘Like me, people have such pride in our wonderful city and I am delighted that the Festival has been able to help bring to life the stories that make life here on Noongar Boodjar so special.’
The many Perth Festival 2020 highlights included:
- The return of Bran Nue Dae and triumphant premiere seasons of Hecate, Yirra Yaakin Theatre’s Noongar-language Macbeth, and the ritualised Yolŋu song, dance and music spectacle of Buŋgul
- The hilarious cross-Tasman wedding farce Black Ties from Ilbijerri Theatre Company and New Zealand's Te Rēhia Theatre
- Meow Meow’s decadent adornment of the Perth Concert Hall as her Kabarett Haus in the exciting new City of Lights Festival hub encompassing the Chevron Lighthouse
- Kaleidoscopic visions shared by painter-sculptor John Prince Siddon’s All Mixed Up and Lynette Wallworth’s VR experience Awavena
- Superstar writers Neil Gaiman and Julia Donaldson joining a range of dynamic new voices and diverse new audiences at the Literature and Ideas Weekend
- Ancient Voices’ sublime strains underscoring the pastoral serenity of the Chamber Music Weekend in the beautiful surrounds of The University of Western Australia
- Exhilarating physical brilliance of Hofesh in the Yard, Colossus, Leviathan and MÁM
- Young Australian musician, G Flip playing to her biggest ever sell-out show of more than 1600 people at the Chevron Lighthouse
We offer a very big thank you to our audiences, sponsors and donors for supporting us to develop the WA cultural sector and present a fully curated international arts festival here in Perth.
Although the official Festival performance program has ended, there are still plenty of brilliant Festival experiences ahead with Cloudstreet, Lotterywest Films and gallery exhibitions across the city.
Look out at the UWA Somerville for encore screenings of 2020 season favourites and back-to back screenings of South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar winner Parasite and his 2007 horror film The Host.
The Festival team looks forward to welcoming everyone again for the 2021 Festival.