Tuesday, 28 February 2023

Reception for Adelaide Festival Chairman's Circle

Rod and I warmly welcome members of the Chairman’s Circle to Government House.

While many of you are returning as long-standing members, we extend a special welcome to new Circle members.

It’s great to see, in 2023, the Adelaide Festival back to the full international strength it enjoyed before the pandemic, with 52 events, 11 world premieres and artists coming from all over the world.

This year’s program contains all the elements for which the Adelaide Festival has become known – a major operatic-scale work, outstanding performers in the international theatre and dance world, a rich classical music program, large-scale free events, WOMADelaide and the cherished - still free! -Writers’ Week.

This evening we gather to celebrate the contribution of the Chairman’s Circle to the 2023 festival, as well as your longer-term impact.

In many ways, the creation of the Chairman’s Circle in 2016 mirrored the origins of the Adelaide Festival in its gathering together of like-minded philanthropists.

Now in its eighth year, the Circle’s influence, vision and direct engagement has had an immediate and measurable impact on the program.

The membership is stronger than ever, which means that despite the challenges faced by the festival, and the arts community generally, we can continue to aspire to bring the best from around the world to Adelaide.

Funds raised by the circle now equal more than two million dollars, a substantial achievement by any measure.

Each year the Circle supports the festival opera, a defining feature of Neil Armfield and Rachel Healy’s programming during their tenure as Co-Artistic Directors.

I was moved by last year’s performance of the Golden Cockerel – its inclusion in the program assuming a weighty significance in the early months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

I thank the Circle for supporting this year’s performances of Messa da Requiem, a work unprecedented in its scale for the Adelaide Festival.

Rod and I greatly look forward to attending Opening Night next week.


2023 marks the last of seven festivals programmed by Neil Armfield and Rachel Healy, and I congratulate them on their outstanding leadership of the festival during this time.

While they have been at the artistic helm, the festival more than doubled its audiences and income, which speaks to their vision, dedication and commitment to bringing the best of the world’s performers to South Australia.

I am sure you will all join me in wishing Rachel and Neil the very best as they step out onto the next stage (excuse the pun) of their professional lives, and in welcoming Ruth Mackenzie, who has undertaken the stewardship of this year’s festival.

We all look forward to seeing what Ruth has in store for her programming of the 2024 festival.

I thank the Adelaide Festival Board, as well as the Board of Foundation Adelaide Festival, for their leadership of the festival and all of its philanthropic activities.

Circle members, thank you once again for your commitment to the Adelaide Festival and the arts in South Australia.

Enjoy the festival. Rod and I look forward to seeing you there. Having become “Fringe Fit” over the past ten days, we’re ready!

Coming events