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The Adelaide festival and the development of arts in Adelaide

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 22:06 authored by Adrian FranklinAdrian Franklin, Lee, B, Rentschler, R
This paper asks: why, given the Australian city of Adelaide’s early intervention to embed a flagship arts festival, has it failed to develop as an arts city with a more democratized cultural terroir, with greater diversity and inclusion? We argue that part of the answer lies in the continuing influence of its flagship Adelaide Festival, which, from the beginning, was not of, and for, the entire city, nor “art for all,” but very much the opposite. It was explicitly orientated to the virtues of high art, packaged for a social elite, and linked to tourism–led urban regeneration. Rather than a celebration of Adelaide’s cultural terroir, it established a marketized form of arts festival built around a core of imported art. Informed by multiple data sources, this case study offers a positive critique at a pivot point in Adelaide’s festival history, suggesting that a consideration of other types of art city offers alternatives for the future.


Publication title

Journal of Urban Affairs






School of Social Sciences


Blackwell Publishers

Place of publication

350 Main Street, Ste 6, Malden, USA, Ma, 02148

Rights statement

© 2021 Urban Affairs Association

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

The creative arts

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