Thanks for joining us at Sydney Festival 2022

Olivia Ansell    |    07 Feb, 2022

A message from Sydney Festival Director Olivia Ansell


The 2022 Sydney Festival program was designed to be outdoor, indoor and online, and despite several challenges including the ongoing global pandemic, we’ve successfully delivered over 80 events and employed 756 artists at a time of great uncertainty for the live performance sector.

Our festival themes: HOPE, CHANGE, UNITE and RECOVER were devised to unite artists with audiences and recover culture safely to our city. Hope – which signifies our dreams for the future – and change – the action linked to hope – very much resonated with the conversations, debate and themes reflected through this year’s festival. Our aim was to invite Sydneysiders and visitors to rediscover their city differently, through immersive, thought-provoking experiences that could stir curiosity and imagination.

And whilst January 2022 was meant to signify the coming together in real life for our community of artists, the Omicron strain of Covid-19 had other plans. Social distancing, backstage bubbles, RAT testing, masks and back up rosters were implemented to ensure the safety of our artists, staff and audience. After two years of isolation, refraining from gathering was VERY hard to do. Thank YOU sincerely for your cooperation in helping to keep our community safe.

Festival highlights included Speakers Corner, a free-wheeling pop-up concert venue which included Amyl and the Sniffers, Busby Marou, Kelly Lee Owens, Casey Donovan and Gordon Koang, to the songs of Bob Dylan brought to life at Theatre Royal Sydney in the Broadway smash hit, Girl From the North Country, by Conor Mcpherson and Leon Vynehall’s underwater electronica experience at Andrew Boy Charlton Pool.

Night Of The Soul by Sydney Philharmonia Choirs immersed audiences with sonic beauty at The Cutaway while THAW by Legs on the Wall in partnership with Sydney Opera House was an arresting visual over Sydney Harbour and an urgent call for action.

Iranian British artist Javaad Alipoor was in residence at the National Theatre of Parramatta, making a compelling and thought-provoking work about subalternity, in Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World, whilst Regional NSW company, Circus Monoxide, performed Construct in the streets, parks and precincts right across greater Sydney.

Vigil: Songs for Tomorrow curated by creative artist in residence Jacob Nash amongst his powerful new art commission, Future Dreaming, brought together community to gather and listen and reflect on the stories, songs and experiences of our First People on the eve of January 26, whilst legendary choreographer Stephen Page delivered the extraordinary epic, Wudjang: Not The Past with Bangarra Dance Theatre and Sydney Theatre Company.

From Lost in Shanghai by Jane Hutcheon and William Yang, Green Park by Elias Jamieson Brown, Jali by Oliver Twist and Perahu Perahu by Jumaadi and Michael Toisuta through to Big Hart’s Acoustic Life of Boat Sheds, contemporary storytelling is at the heart of what we do.

The immersive wonderland of Airship Orchestra, the sustainable creative play experience Fluffy, plus Sea of Light and Erth’s Prehistoric Picnic, wowed young audiences across Parramatta, Redfern, Darling Harbour and the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Sydney Festival is one of the largest international arts festivals in the world. The diversity, collaboration and breadth of this year’s program reflected the conversations and times we’re in. And we’re committed to having many more conversations.

For 46 years this festival has backed artists and the power of art. None of which could be achieved without you, our audience.

From our wonderfully dedicated volunteers who give their time and energy, to the many expert staff whose skills help realise one of the most complex cultural undertakings in the country, through to the 756 artists who shared their artistry and vision with us, and of course the people of Sydney and our visitors who turned up in real life or online to partake in the 2022 Sydney Festival – Thank You.

I’d like to acknowledge Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, our Sydney Festival patron, and thank our major Government partners, Create NSW, City of Sydney, Destination NSW, the City of Parramatta and Infrastructure NSW, as well as our principal philanthropic partner Peter Freedman AM, private donors and our corporate partners.

Sincere thanks to our venue partners including Sydney Opera House, Riverside Theatres Parramatta, Carriageworks, City Recital Hall, Sydney Theatre, Seymour Centre and many, many more.

I’d also like to acknowledge my predecessor Wesley Enoch AM for his outstanding tenure.

We look forward to welcoming you to the 2023 festival next January on what always was and always will be Aboriginal Land.

Olivia xo

“If the sign of a successful festival is a change in perspective of how we see our city, country and selves, then this January’s Sydney Festival won audiences, game, set and match” — Helen Pitt, The Sydney Morning Herald

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