Festival of recovery

Highway to Hell packed a punch and brought in many punters who’d never been to a festival event before. Photo by Jessica Wyld.

THE Perth Festival’s ability to inject millions of dollars into the state’s arts economy will make the next instalment vital to help the creative sector recover from Covid-19.

The Festival’s annual report was released this week, around the time Perth council and other sponsors are looking at their own budgets and what they might be able to skimp on in a lockdown-ravaged economy.

“Like so many sectors, our state’s arts and culture industry has been hit hard by the Covid-19 shutdown. Artists, venues, workers and companies have endured severe job losses, show cancellations and crippled income streams since March,” a media release accompanying the report said.

“Perth Festival is well placed, as a ready-made cultural stimulus package, to help re-invigorate our state’s vital arts sector  for the benefit of the entire WA community.”

economic impact from artists and audiences spending was $30 million in 2020, up from $19 million in 2019. That’s even with the tail end movie season having to be cancelled due to pandemic restrictions. 

The Highway to Hell closing event was deemed a huge success attracting 144,850 people, and 42 per cent of those had never been to a festival event before. Traders saw a $6 million boost on the day. 

The festival paid $10.8 million to artists and local suppliers and workers, with three quarters of the artists from WA. 

The festival’s executive director Nathan Bennett said the 2021 festival would be even more important as people “will be looking for creative ways to relax and relate to one another after a period of great stress on our financial, mental and social wellbeing.

Perth council’ Covid-19 recovery plan looks to “events and festivals” as key to rebuilding the hospitality, retail and tourism sector.

By DAVID BELL

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