A new research report by the University of South Australia has found South Australia’s arts festival sector will have plenty of opportunity in the post-COVID economy.

The report, written by Professor Ruth Rentschler OAM and Dr Boram Lee, in conjunction with Arts South Australia and Adelaide Festival Centre, examined the interconnections between arts festivals, collaboration, value creation and tourism.

The findings suggest a fresh approach to the festival sector to not only ensure a bright future, but also redress some problems areas of the past.

This includes suggesting art festivals post-COVID should be ‘smart’ and ‘slow, by engaging with audiences to build a relationship rather than seeking volume.

Further to this, the report makes four key recommendations on how private and public entities may achieve both the tourism and the arts working together post-COVID.

“A successful tourism marketing effort relies on the collaboration between arts festival organisers, arts agencies and tourism agencies,’ Prof Rentschler says.

“So, firstly, we’re recommending an expanded role for Festivals Adelaide, to facilitate greater collaboration between key stakeholders, especially the two government agencies, Arts South Australia and South Australian Tourism.

“We also believe Festivals Adelaide is in the best position to provide stronger communication with the general public, especially digitally, due to its linkages with each major arts festival and the communications networks they provide.”

The report also recommends expanded roles for both the State Government and individual festival operators, who will need to work to maximise opportunities in a challenging new economy.

“On the one hand, the State Government needs to expand its scope in guiding arts festival organisers as they operate on a knife edge through a period of financial transition, whilst also communicating the value of the arts sector to the wider community and encouraging a culture of philanthropy.

“At the same time, arts festival organisers need to justify their own ‘social licenses’ to operate within society, and this includes providing adequate training, skills development and opportunities to allow artists to be entrepreneurial and to promote and commercialise their artistic offerings through digital platforms in a post-COVID-19 world.”

Finally, the report underlines the need for a total reboot of how the arts scene is represented in South Australian tourism promotion, aimed at improving the future sustainability of both sectors.

“There is a need to actively diversify the State’s tourism marketing strategy by including the arts, not merely as an ambient activity, but recognising some of the major arts festivals as key brand associations,” Prof Rentschler says.

You can read the entire report here