Sydney Festival 2013: A feast of arts and fun


Mary Stielow pisze po zakończeniu Sydney Festival 2013, w którym uczestniczyło 750 artystów z 17 krajów i ponad pół miliona widzów:


From a giant rubber duck in Darling Harbour to a Handel-Westwood opera feast, the 2013 Sydney Festival truly had something for everyone. With a vast array of cultural and entertaining offerings across Sydney, our Festival reached well over half a million people directly and many more online across the globe. The Festival team made a point of underlining our unique ability to activate unusual and often surprising spaces and sites and featuring live music across the dance and theatre program.


Festival highlights included the fashion-meets-baroque project Semele Walk; the world premiere of compelling local story The Secret River; hot Latin circus troupe Circolumbia with URBAN at the Parramatta Riverside Theatre; the About an Hour series, now presented as one jam-packed weekend of theatrical discoveries at Carriageworks; Heiner Goebbels’ return to Sydney with the magical Eraritjaritjaka; the riveting Irish dance concert Rian; Cantina’s quirky physical theatre at The Famous Spiegeltent; the residency of Malian singer Rokia Traore; uplifting concerts by Archie Roach; and the new Paradiso bar and live music venue at Sydney Town Hall.

Audiences and press alike lauded the Festival for its transformative power to change the ordinary into the extraordinary and claim everyday spaces with the festival program. Paradiso and Semele Walk showed different aspects of Sydney Town Hall, the Australian world premiere Concrete & Bones celebrated Dulwich Hill Skate Park; Carriageworks and the surrounding neighbourhood felt the buzz of About an Hour, Song Dong’s Waste Not and the Micro Parks project; and multi-media installations Chronometer and Notes for Walking were set in unique north-shore sites.

The 2013 Sydney Festival stretched geographically from Chatswood to Sutherland and from Bondi Beach to Penrith. Our Honda Festival Garden transformed the centre of the city, whilst our most unusual festival site undoubtedly was the apex of the largest Opera House sail, which saw a Dawn Calling by alphorn player Arkady Shilkloper. Sydney Festival returned to Parramatta for a 13-day program with top international and local artists including Circolumbia, Kashmere Stage Band and a diverse line-up in the Parramatta Spiegeltent, with record attendances across the program.

Sydney Festival 2013 presented a mix of 66 ticketed and 26 free events. Our new Day One: An opening in three acts presented community entertainment, a family spectacle welcoming Sydney’s big yellow friend, Rubber Duck, and the by now traditional chance to dance the night away at The Domain, which also hosted our traditional Symphony and Summer Sounds concerts. Parramatta saw the return of our successful Parramatta Opening Party, with numerous installations, free concerts and DJ sets.

The real-life success of many of our projects was matched by unprecedented international coverage and online presence. Rubber Duck was a sensation on the ground and online with Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds filled with images and spectacular headline news coverage in print and A/V media from London to Zambia and New York to Kazakhstan. Only a short time later, it was the iconic image of our alphorn Dawn Calling on top of Sydney Opera House that went around the world.

At the time of writing, Sydney Festival counted 121 sold out performances and a gross box office of more than $7.3m. Over 120,000 tickets were sold across 321 ticketed performances. The Festival included 10 world premieres, 3 Australian premieres and 25 Australian exclusives, with more than 750 artists coming from 17 different countries, reaching an audience of more than 500,000 people across 23 days.

“Sydney Festival embraced its catch line This is Our City in Summer with a diverse and buoyant program.” said Festival Director Lieven Bertels. “The artists, the Festival team and hundreds of volunteers brought to life an ambitious program that delighted our audiences with small and big surprises. We were pleased to see our quest to bring back opera and highlight the joy of live music in dance and theatre, as well as in a concert format, was well-received.”

Sydney Festival 2013 was made possible through the generous core and special funding from its principal stakeholders the NSW Government -supporting the Festival through Arts NSW and Destination NSW- alongside the City of Sydney and the Parramatta City Council. The Festival was delighted to see the return of principal sponsor ZIP Industries and leadership partners ANZ and China Southern Airlines. Sydney Festival acknowledges the increased and ongoing support of many private donors including our Directors’ Circle. The Festival especially thanks the Balnaves Foundation.

The 2013 Festival was the first of three festivals to be directed by Lieven Bertels.



Mary Stielow, Publicity Manager

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