14/03/2018 - 09:01

Perth festivals stage run at box office

14/03/2018 - 09:01

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Box office sales for Perth’s two major arts festivals have remained steady against last year’s figures, with Perth Festival on track to make $3.8 million and Fringe World Festival hitting $10 million.

Nathan Bennett says Perth Festival generated a surplus for 2018, despite a conservative budget. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Box office sales for Perth’s two major arts festivals have remained steady against last year’s figures, with Perth Festival on track to make $3.8 million and Fringe World Festival hitting $10 million.

Having exceeded its box office target of $3.6 million, Perth Festival expects to match last year’s $3.8 million, with five weeks of the Lotterywest Films season still to run.

Executive director Nathan Bennett said he was thrilled with the result.

“My sense is consumer confidence is increasing generally and that’s impacted on our ability to sell tickets,” Mr Bennett told Business News.

“I think the program itself really resonated with audiences; there were lots of shows that sold out.”

More than 700 international artists featured at Perth Festival events.

Mr Bennett said the budget for 2018 was set lower than that for the previous season.

“I was more conservative this year when putting the budget together based on economic conditions, and I think with the festival now behind us it’s safe to say that was for the best,” he said.

This year’s program excluded an event held in the Great Southern, which previously generated about $100,000 in box office income.

Mr Bennett said the surplus made this year would be put towards the festival’s cash reserve to protect the organisation when taking risks for future programs.

The 2018 Fringe World Festival matched last year’s $10 million in box office sales, levelling out after years of successive growth.

While Fringe World more than doubled the revenue of Perth Festival, the two leading arts bodies operate contrasting business models.

Perth Festival covers the costs of artists in advance, while Fringe World acts as a platform for emerging and established artists to take their own risks and reap the rewards, or losses.

The total number of events for Fringe World this year was approximately 750, up from about 710 in 2017, generating about 360,000 ticket sales for the second year running.

Total ticketed and non-ticketed attendance was more than 800,000.

Chief executive Marcus Canning previously told Business News that, while Fringe World events had grown for 2018, it would not want the festival to double in size.

“Putting the brakes on a little bit, adding a bit of fuel when we think we need to is very much a part of the Fringe experience,” Mr Canning said.

A number of new venues featured this year, including Leedypalooza in Leederville, The Icecream Factory on Roe Street, and The Showman’s Fair at the Urban Orchard.

Fringe World festival director Amber Hasler said the festival had brought new and surprising offerings for 2018, attracting families with young children.

“Our hubs in Northbridge, including The Pleasure Garden and Fringe Central at The Perth Cultural Centre, have been warm and welcoming spaces for people of all ages and we foresee that our family programming will continue to grow in the years to come,” she said.

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