Legislative Council: Wednesday, August 30, 2023


Adelaide Festival Centre

The Hon. J.S. LEE (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (21:46): I move:

That this council—

1. Notes that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Adelaide Festival Centre, Australia's first major capital city arts venue, known as the heart of the arts in this Festival State;

2. Commends the Adelaide Festival Centre management and staff, board members, performing artists and all who have supported the centre with their philanthropic endeavours, their volunteer efforts, their labour and creativity, and their patronage over the last 50 years; and

3. Recognises the extraordinary ongoing economic, educational, cultural and arts tourism contribution made by the Adelaide Festival Centre and its associated entities and activities over the last 50 years, today and into the future.

I rise to congratulate the Adelaide Festival Centre on its special milestone 50th anniversary. For half a century, the Adelaide Festival Centre has served our community well and has been the heart of arts in South Australia since 1973. I would like to take this opportunity to commend the Adelaide Festival Centre CEO, Douglas Gautier AM; the trust; the chair; the Hon. Hieu Van Le, former Governor of South Australia; management and staff; board members; performing artists; and all who have supported the centre with their philanthropic endeavours, their volunteer efforts, their labour and creativity and their patronage over the last 50 years.

South Australia has long been known as the Festival State, and this is no doubt associated with the fact that Adelaide has become Australia's first capital city to build a multipurpose arts centre, the home of South Australia's performing arts.

As the shadow minister for tourism and hospitality, I recognise that the power of arts and culture can drive tourism activities, revitalise local communities and enhance economic development. Arts, culture and heritage are valued components of a rich society because of their ability to engage, excite and surprise people and help us reflect on and shape our unique cultural identity.

Through direct investment into the Adelaide Festival Centre 50 years ago, we have become a leader in the development of our rich cultural landscape. The Festival Theatre opened in June 1973, with the rest of the centres following soon after. The complex includes the Festival Theatre, Dunstan Playhouse, Space Theatre and several gallery and function spaces.

The Festival Centre is managed by a statutory corporation, the Adelaide Festival Centre Trust, which is responsible for encouraging and facilitating artistic, cultural and performing arts activities, as well as maintaining and improving the building and facilities of the Adelaide Festival Centre complex and Her Majesty's Theatre. I offer congratulations on the redevelopment of Her Majesty's Theatre and, later, the Adelaide Festival Centre. These have become fantastic assets for South Australia.

In the late sixties, the Hon. Steele Hall, who was the Premier at the time, had the vision of creating a new home for arts in the city on the sloping banks of the River Torrens. He saw it as the key to placing Adelaide on the global arts map and supporting the industry to grow to its full potential. This vision was later championed by the Lord Mayor of Adelaide, Robert Porter, with the support of the then Premier Dunstan, who launched a public appeal to raise funds to build the Festival Centre and establish Adelaide as a significant city in the arts world.

I want to acknowledge those individuals, families and community groups who have collectively made enormous financial contributions to the Adelaide Festival Centre project. The public appeal to raise funds reached its target within a week. With the target exceeded, the extra money raised was set aside to create the world-class collections of artwork for the centre. This demonstrated the generosity and commitment by the South Australian public and the community to support a project that paved the way for artistic, cultural, tourism and economic contributions to our great state.

The Adelaide Festival Centre's strong community connection is still evident today. As one of Australia's most active arts centres, it presents a wide range of arts, activities and performances for the community. Recently, I hosted a friend from overseas who visited Adelaide some 10 years ago. We walked around the Festival Plaza and he was amazed how Adelaide has transformed dramatically since he last visited. He was impressed that the plaza space is comparable to other world-class destinations in the heart of the Adelaide Riverbank entertainment precinct.

I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the passionate interest of former Premier the Hon. Steven Marshall in his strong support for the arts and tourism. I am very proud to be a part of the Marshall Liberal government, which helped deliver the Festival Plaza open-air public space development. Festival Plaza, undertaken by the state government in partnership with SkyCity Adelaide and Walker Corporation, represents $1 billion in public and private investment, including $213 million from the Marshall state government at the time.

Every city needs a vibrant destination with people-focused spaces to attend festivals, to explore, to congregate, relax, shop, dine and play. The upgrade of the plaza is a key component to the success of the broader Adelaide Riverbank, as it will not only generate economic growth but we are confident that it will also become a destination of choice for local, interstate and overseas visitors.

The Adelaide Festival Centre hosts the Adelaide Festival and presents major festivals across the year, including the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, OzAsia Festival, DreamBIG Children's Festival, Adelaide Guitar Festival and OUR MOB. It is also home to the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, the State Opera South Australia, the Australian Dance Theatre, the State Theatre Company South Australia, the Australian Ballet, Brink, and Windmill Theatre Co. Each year, over a million people of all ages attend Adelaide Festival Centre's theatres, restaurants and gallery spaces.

To mark the 50th anniversary, the Adelaide Festival Centre has organised a 50th anniversary celebration concert, which I am truly honoured to be a part of. All the audiences, including myself, thoroughly enjoyed the speeches and recollections of 50 years of stories and memories from the stars who have appeared at the centre and behind-the-scenes operators who have made significant contributions to the Adelaide Festival Centre.

Leadership, passion and dedication by CEO and Artistic Director Douglas Gautier AM is critical to drive the growth and success of Adelaide Festival Centre. Since taking on the roll in 2006, Douglas's vision and many initiatives have positioned the Adelaide Festival Centre as a hub for Australian cultural engagement and increased audience numbers through its captivating programs. Major changes have seen the Adelaide Guitar Festival and OzAsia Festival added to the centre's offerings.

In recognition of his services to the arts and community, Douglas was deservingly recognised and appointed a Member of the Order of Australia. The Adelaide Festival Centre produced festivals are led by a talented team who are committed to enriching lives through the arts. I would like to take a moment to mention some of the key team members. Alex Sinclair is the Executive Producer for Adelaide Cabaret Festival. The Adelaide Cabaret Festival is the biggest cabaret festival in the world.

Slava Grigoryan is the Artistic Director of the Adelaide Guitar Festival. It has become the most significant festival of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Annette Shun Wah has returned as the Artistic Director of the OzAsia Festival for another year. The OzAsia Festival is Australia's leading contemporary arts festival and engages with Asia. It fosters a closer link between Australian and Asian artists and involves the whole community, particularly the multicultural community of South Australia.

Co-creative producers, Susannah Sweeney and Georgi Paech, inspire creativity and curiosity in the DreamBIG Children's Festival, which is also the oldest children's festival in the world. Charissa Davies is the curator of Our Mob, Senior Exhibitions. This exhibition engages First Nations artists from all over South Australia with the opportunity to have their art and culture celebrated at South Australia's premier arts facility. The Adelaide Festival's philanthropic endeavours are supported by its committed foundation board members chaired by Miranda Starke, with patrons the Hon. Legh Davis and Lady Joan Hardy OAM. The foundation is key to the centre's mission to make the arts accessible to all South Australians.

Ernst and Young, in its 2017 report, found that the Adelaide Festival Centre Trust contributed more than $160 million in economic and social impact. The report also recognised the importance of encouraging greater social cohesion in the community and valued Adelaide Festival Centre's significant social contributions at $52.4 million. I am sure that since the 2017 report, the Adelaide Festival Centre social economic impact has grown from strength to strength. The Adelaide Festival Centre plays a significant role to build an enviable reputation in the arts world.

Adelaide is Australia's first and only City of Music, designated in 2015 by UNESCO. As a City of Music, Adelaide joins a network of 295 cities globally, including 59 Cities of Music. This prestigious UNESCO title further acknowledges our city's decades-long love for the arts and its core place in our history and culture. I take this opportunity once again to congratulate the Adelaide Festival Centre on this milestone celebration of its 50th anniversary and wish the Adelaide Festival Centre another incredible 50 years ahead. I strongly commend the motion.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. I.K. Hunter.