The 39th Adelaide Festival, the first of the next three Festivals curated by Artistic Director Ruth Mackenzie CBE and Chief Executive Kath M Mainland CBE, invites citizens, artists and communities to help shape the way the Festival can support and inspire us all.
Mackenzie and Mainland bring international festival experience from Melbourne, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Paris, Vienna and London, with the added expertise of Associate Artistic Director Wouter Van Ransbeek, who focuses on new ideas and talent in the northern hemisphere.
Mackenzie and Mainland’s first program builds on Adelaide Festival’s legacy of world class artistic excellence and innovation, with a line-up of both returning international stars Robert Lepage, Thomas Ostemeier, Laurie Andersen, Angélique Kidjo, Barrie Kosky, Stephen Page, Akram Khan and Milo Rau; and artists making their Festival debuts: Marina Abramović, Elizabeth Streb, Jacob Boehme, Édouard Louis and Víkingur Ólafsson.
Adelaide Writers’ Week, curated by Australian literary leader Louise Adler AM, once again brings together writers from across the world, with a focus in 2024 on South Asia and an impressive array of star names including Dame Mary Beard, Édouard Louis, Richard Ford, Elizabeth Strout, Ted Chiang, Yanis Varoufakis, Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart.
Drawing inspiration from new leaders at sister international festivals in Avignon and Edinburgh, Mackenzie and Mainland’s first program delves deeper into the role of an international festival in the 21st century. It provides opportunities for everyone to get involved through new bookend events Create4Adelaide and Floods of Fire and unveils Adelaide Festival’s three-year plan co-commissioning ambitious new works showcasing Australian talent to the world.
Key threads in the 2024 Adelaide Festival program are:
#1. World premieres of Adelaide Festival-commissioned work with Stephen Page’s Baleen Moondjan, which opens the Festival at Glenelg Beach, Jacob Boehme’s Guuranda and Restless Dance Theatre’s Private View all taking place on the opening weekend. In addition, the program includes the world premiere of Marrow by Australian Dance Theatre, led by Artistic Director Daniel Riley. The Festival will also showcase new artworks in exhibitions including Yucky and the 2024 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art. The biennial also features a commission by writer Kate Llewellyn and the Adelaide Chamber Singers and new works are created by young people and South Australian artists in Create4Adelaide and Floods of Fire.
#2. First Nations First with the Festival’s hero image, Areyonga (2019), by South Australian Angkuna Baker from Indulkana, and 77 First Nations artists taking part onstage and off in 10 separate works in 2024.
#3. The flagship Adelaide Festival operatic centrepiece – Adelaide Festival is the only place in Australia where you can see a main stage, international opera production. In 2024, it’s Stravinsky’s The Nightingale and Other Fables, directed by Robert Lepage – with international operas already locked in for 2025 and 2026.
#4. Returning international stars Robert Lepage, Thomas Ostemeier, Laurie Andersen, Angélique Kidjo, Barrie Kosky, Stephen Page, Akram Khan and Milo Rau; and Festival debuts by arts world luminaries: Marina Abramović, Elizabeth Streb, Jacob Boehme, Édouard Louis and Víkingur Ólafsson.
#5. The brightest 20-something rising stars of tomorrow, including Mario Banushi, Australian playwright Thomas Weatherall and Melbourne theatre collective Pony Cam, are making their debut appearance at the 2024 Adelaide Festival. This continues the Festival’s long tradition of giving audiences the opportunity to see work before artists become established as major international players.
#6. Cultural Democracy which prompts us to ask, “Who has the right to make art? Who has the right to curate it?” Create4Adelaide gives young people curatorial power. 2000 young people voted on their top three climate action priorities – extreme weather events, extinction of animals and plants, and pollution of our air and waterways. Over 1000 artworks made by young people on those priorities have already been submitted to the Open Call. Young people will then choose the artworks that most closely align with their top priorities for the AF24 exhibition. Continuing the Create4Adelaide journey, at the end of the 2024 Festival, the vote will open to decide the themes for the year-long project for 2025.
#7. Floods of Fire is created by the ASO and curated by international artist Airan Berg, on the Festival’s final weekend. On Saturday 16th Floods of Fire will take over the campus of Adelaide Festival partner The University of Adelaide, which celebrates 150 years in 2024. The free event will see composers and communities create new music, stories and art in response to extreme weather events. After the success at the opening of AF23, the Citizens Orchestra is back in 2024 giving everyone the opportunity to participate, regardless of musical background. Register at aso.com.au/citizens-orchestra-2024.
#8. Delegating curatorial power in additional free and artist-led group exhibitions Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, curated by Jose da Silva; Yucky, curated by Sam Peterson; and Neoterica, curated by Ray Harris. They complement the free exhibitions at Samstag Gallery by Bruce Nuske, Khai Liew and Dana Awartani, and Country Arts SA commissioned exhibition HARBINGERS: Care or Catastrophe featuring work by five South Australian artists in the regional town of Bordertown.
#9. A spotlight on climate action, biodiversity loss and the human environment connection is evident in climate action projects like Create4Adelaide and Floods of Fire, as well as Festival pieces Gondwana and Antigone in the Amazon which focus on damage to equatorial and tropical forests. The Festival’s operatic centrepiece, Stravinsky’s The Nightingale, has inspired Festival artists to create 18 pieces featuring the songs of 17 different birds, which are dotted throughout the 2024 program. In 2020, Adelaide Festival became Australia’s first festival to be certified carbon neutral and holds ongoing partnerships with conservation startups Wilderlands and Reforest.
#10. This year’s artistic hub will be located at Community at Lot Fourteen on North Terrace, ideally placed near many 2024 Adelaide Festival venues and with free entry to continue conversations into the night.
#11. Discount ticket schemes for those facing a financial barrier in continuing established Festival initiatives Tix for Next to Nix and Pay What You Can, thanks to The Balnaves Foundation.
Artistic Director Ruth Mackenzie CBE says, “Since 1960, Adelaide Festival has led the way with international artists opening hearts and minds through inspiring art. It is an honour to play my part in creating an Adelaide Festival program which give artists and all of us in South Australia an important voice to the world.”
“When a festival comes together, common threads and shared concerns among artists from around the world start to emerge and shape the program,” Chief Executive Kath Mainland CBE adds. “This year, a resounding global concern revolves around climate change and the deterioration of our natural environment, as artists and communities take centre stage in the quest for solutions.”
Adelaide Writers’ Week Director Louise Adler AM says, “In 2024, novelists, poets and writers from across the world (including seven contemporary South Asian writers, one of this year’s areas of focus) will again join us to reflect on the lessons of history, make sense of the present moment and imagine a future that just might hold the promise of hope. The issues writers lay bare for us are both universal and specific to this time and place, and explorations of the personal and the private are inescapably also political and public.”
“Time and again, Adelaide Festival has proven itself to be a catalyst not only for economic growth but also as a vital wellspring of social and cultural enrichment and creative talent development for the people of South Australia,” says South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas MP. “With pride, my Government has committed an additional $2.3 million in support over the next three years to expand the Festival and enhance its capacity to draw groundbreaking international events, ensuring its continued prominence globally.”
Minister for Arts Andrea Michaels MP says, “The Malinauskas Government has committed an additional $2.3 million for Adelaide Festival, and I’m thrilled by the rich diversity of voices for 2024, as Adelaide again emerges as a cultural heart, drawing art lovers locally, nationally and internationally for an extraordinary celebration. We’ll see a convergence of international artists, First Nations talents, and acclaimed South Australian companies and artists on our stages and in our galleries for a truly special festival.”
The 39th Adelaide Festival runs over 17 days and nights from Friday 1 March to Sunday 17 March 2024. Adelaide Writers’ Week runs from Saturday 2 to Thursday 7 March 2024, and the full program will be announced in January 2024.
For more information and to book tickets, head to www.adelaidefestival.com.au.