Thanks for joining us at #SYDFEST 2019!

February 6, 2019
Wesley Enoch

From floating in a swimming pool listening to the sounds of a harp, attending The Vigil or a language class, seeing a blockbuster international act or being the first to see a world premiere of a new work, Sydney Festival 2019 had it all.

The festival is a huge undertaking which has been a great success, and there were so many things to celebrate. The overwhelming reward for artistic risk; all the new work we have commissioned and helped bring into the world; the fantastic reviews and public discussions; the ticket sales and attendances to a range of free events; getting to the moon; the new friends; the new ways of working; the innovation and the beautiful moments and memories.

Memories I will have forever are my DJ set with The Dollar Bin Darlings; Deer Woman and the gut wrenching ending; riding my bike around the city knowing I was contributing to something bigger; watching the audience leap to their feet with Counting and Cracking; the 4000+ people attending The Vigil; Nakhane at Carriageworks; Yellamundie doing great readings; observing the international nature of our dance floor; watching so many excited audience members on stage during HOME; the blood pouring in Beware of Pity, the list goes on and on.

We make memorable moments… the popular free events throughout the city and across the whole festival continue to delight and surprise. This year we saw Apollo 11, ALWAYS, Fly Me To The Moon and Moon Drops bring in huge crowds with the support of Property NSW, Barangaroo Delivery Authority, World Square and China Southern Airlines. These relationships, along with support from our private donors and corporate partners, continue to help us bring the city to life in new ways.

Of course, Sydney Festival would not be possible without the ongoing generous support and investment of the state government, supporting the festival through Create NSW and Destination NSW.

We returned to Hyde Park with the Festival Garden and watched how Sydney embraced the program with a string of sell out performances. Pigalle, Le Gateau Chocolat, Camille O’Sullivan, Nakhane, Julia Holter and many more. We spread the free activities throughout the city this year, turning the Village into the smaller Garden – this didn’t stop people from dancing the night away with The Dollar Bin Darlings or enjoying the vibe and great weather. We are looking forward to the streets coming alive in 2020 as more of the city is opened up.

Carriageworks was enhanced by Nick Cave’s Until, an installation that sparkled throughout January. Dance, live music and theatre filled the spaces of Carriageworks and audiences caught the buzz with thousands and thousands of people hanging out in the foyer before and after shows. We look forward to continuing our successful partnership with Carriageworks and wish Lisa Havilah all the best as she moves on to her next role at MAAS.

The City of Sydney continues to be a huge supporter of the festival and was even more involved this year as Counting and Cracking took over Sydney Town Hall for the month and provided a breathtaking theatrical experience. Belvoir St Theatre and Co-Curious revealed a story of such intricacy and beauty that it sold out almost as soon as it previewed. The show attracted a culturally diverse audience – something reflected across our program, which saw diverse crowds eager to hear the diverse stories of Sydney.

Western Sydney continues to be an important area of growth, thanks to our continued partnership with City of Parramatta. This year saw the world premiere of Shànghǎi MiMi at Riverside Theatres, with the stellar show attracting record numbers including a large contingent of the Chinese community. At Sydney Symphony Under the Stars, a diverse audience from across Sydney enjoyed the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in full flight in Sydney’s leading outdoor concert venue, The Crescent in Parramatta Park. Families engaged in our Circus Comes to Town free weekend of performances and workshops, tickets flew out the door for Rock Bang and Splash Test Dummies, while Brett & Wendy… A Love Story Bound by Art and Since Ali Died brought new audiences Parramatta. Blak Box in Blacktown and Suppression Dam at Casula Powerhouse were performed to great acclaim. We are keen to look at more work premiering and coming from Western Sydney based artists in the near future.

When I was doing the rounds and saying hello and goodbye to the Germans, the Chinese, the Nigerian/British, and the Sydneysiders I was struck by the uniformity of response – they all said how much they enjoyed Sydney Festival, the sense of warmth and generosity, the welcome they received. We are a friendly festival that owns our place in our city. It is always good to have great people doing the greatest job, and I thank the Sydney Festival team for bringing their personalities and professional dedication to their jobs.

The volunteers are fantastic ambassadors for the festival and our city and are valuable to the way the public engage with us. A huge thank you to the 400 people who freely gave their time and energy to be part of the festival family in 2019.

Everyone makes their own memories, and this year we gave everyone something to remember. Thank you for being curious and adventurous. We would not have been the success without our city embracing us the way they have.

I can’t wait to show you what we’re planning for 2020.

Love Wesley.
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