The future of festivals

Fragmenting audiences, decolonisation, and arts centres muscling in on their territory: what do the coming years hold for our arts festivals and how will they evolve?

Compagnia Finzi Pasca’s Per Te will be staged at this year’s Brisbane Festival; image supplied.

By their very nature, festivals take us outside of our everyday lives and actions. The combination of unique events and audiences looking for the unexpected becomes a catalyst for the extraordinary.

‘Why is it that we’re happy to sit in a room for 12 hours with some strange installation – which we would only do in a festival? There is something about the context that a festival creates that actually changes our behaviour,’ said Simon Abrahams, Creative Director & CEO of Melbourne Fringe at last month’s Creative State Summit in Melbourne.

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Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM, and serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Living Legend in 2017. In 2020 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize. Most recently, Richard was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Green Room Awards Association in June 2021. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts