Adelaide Festival Centre Celebrates its 50th
Adelaide Festival Centre will celebrate its 50th Anniversary in 2023, starting with the launch of a new podcast and a special Festival Theatre concert in June.
The First 50 podcast hosted by Adelaide’s very own cabaret icon Libby O’Donovan will feature a monthly episode exploring the careers of artists who have graced the stages of Adelaide Festival Centre, starting with South Australia’s own Robyn Archer. The first episode, which drops today (January 29) is available to listen to here or on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Future episodes feature didgeridoo virtuoso William Barton, Adelaide Guitar Festival Artistic Director Slava Grigoryan and musical theatre royalty Todd McKenney and Rhonda Burchmore who fondly remember starting their careers at Adelaide Festival Centre in the 80s. The podcast is presented by Adelaide Festival Centre and produced by local agency Solstice Podcasting.
On its Birthday proper on June 2, Adelaide Festival Centre will hold a concert at Festival Theatre with the line-up to be announced soon, followed by an after-party celebration with DJ’s and a new lighting installation by local visual artists in and around Festival Plaza. In the same month a commemorative coffee table book will be available to purchase, featuring 50 of the most influential, inspiring, and famous friends of Adelaide Festival Centre.
As the proud presenters of major festivals, Adelaide Festival Centre will pay homage to the 50th Anniversary through special programming at each festival, starting with DreamBIG Children’s Festival in May and The BIGGEST BIG Family Weekend on 20-21 May. Adelaide Cabaret Festival has announced an all-star line-up of Artistic Directors who will each play a role in this year’s festival in June, including Julia Holt, David Campbell and Lisa Campbell, Kate Ceberano, Eddie Perfect, Ali McGregor, Julia Zemiro, Alan Cumming and Tina Arena.
Adelaide Festival Centre CEO & Artistic Director Douglas Gautier AM says, “Adelaide Festival Centre is the heart of the arts in South Australia. It was strongly supported by the South Australian Community 50 years ago and continues to be a place where arts and culture flourish. We look forward to celebrating our 50th with the entire community through a year-long season of public events, that represent our rich history and the bright future of arts. We invite you, our friends and colleagues, to join the celebrations!”
Host of The First 50 podcast and South Australian performer Libby O’Donovan says, “For fifty years Adelaide Festival Centre has been at the forefront of innovative Australian theatre and a major performance destination for acts across the globe. Throughout the First 50 podcast, I have had the pleasure of hearing from many incredible artists who have performed at Adelaide Festival Centre - all who attest that this is a place where the pure magic of theatre comes alive."
Walk Of Fame award recipient and South Australian artist Robyn Archer said, “I have sung, performed, and directed on every stage and in every nook and cranny of Adelaide Festival Centre. Fifty years on Dunstan Playhouse is still my very favourite venue anywhere: I’m proud to be treading its boards again during this year of celebration.”
The Hon Andrea Michaels MP, Minister for Arts said, “Adelaide Festival Centre is a South Australian icon, and it is incredibly special to be celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. For 50 years, Adelaide Festival Centre has been home to extraordinary and thought-provoking performances and its success is testament to the pioneering vision of Labor Premier Don Dunstan. Premier Dunstan, alongside Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, opened the Adelaide Festival Centre as the very first major performing arts centre in Australia with a transformative impact on our state. It's going to be a big year with performances from local and international stars and I encourage everyone to experience the magic of Adelaide Festival Centre's 50th year for themselves.”
Further events at Adelaide Festival Centre and part of the 50th year of programming include:
Turn Up Your Radio, 2 June to 13 August – Festival Theatre Galleries: a not to be missed exhibition featuring a live music montage and exhibition of original objects, costumes, photographs and posters from South Australia’s best known musicians and bands including, Sia, Cold Chisel, Paul Kelly, The Angels and Little River Band, to name a few.
Emerging Light Sculptures, unveiled 2 June – Festival Plaza: A special commission featuring five South Australian artists, showcasing stunning outdoor light sculptures in response to Adelaide Festival Centre’s 50th Anniversary.
OUR MOB and OUR YOUNG MOB, 19 August to 8 October – Festival Theatre Galleries: A showcase of art and culture by First Nations artists from all over South Australia held in the spirit of reconciliation and demonstrating the power of art in bringing people together.
Adelaide Festival Centre was the first major arts centre built in Australia, opening on June 2, 1973 by Australian Prime Minister at the time Gough Whitlam along with South Australian Premier Don Dunstan and Lord Mayor of Adelaide, Robert Porter. The first performance was a classical gala concert at Festival Theatre. Its iconic architecture, designed by architect John Morphett, took almost three years to construct.
Adelaide Festival Centre is one of the Australia’s most active arts centres and presents a wide range of festivals, performances, exhibitions, major musicals, and arts activities for the community. It has emphatically placed itself as the heart of the arts in South Australia.
More on Adelaide Festival Centre’s history here.
Photographer: Rob Brown.