Tens of thousands converge on NAFA in 2021

Date published: 17 August 2021

The North Australian Festival of Arts has marked off another year of resounding success, with tens of thousands of visitors attending a slew of sold-out shows during the month of July.

The award-winning festival brought art, culture and entertainment to Townsville despite the challenges of rolling COVID lockdowns across the country during July.

Community and Cultural Development Committee chairperson Ann-Maree Greaney said cabaret and comedy were the most popular genres with audiences this year, including packed-out children’s shows.

“Visitors to Townsville who travelled for the Townsville 500, Ephemera or the AFCM Queens Gardens Concert got to experience the joy of NAFA spread across the city, from The Messengers of Townsville birds perched around the CBD to live shows at Strand Park, Central Park and The Ville,” Cr Greaney said.

“It’s been a thrill to welcome NAFA mainstay Wonderland Spiegeltent back to Townsville for the last four weeks, with their incredible mix of children’s shows, circus, cabaret and comedy. The Spiegeltent had a whopping 17 sold-out shows, and attracted spectators to their free high-wire spectacle Wonder at Strand Park.

“We also had the pleasure of having Australian rock band Yothu Yindi step in at the last minute to headline a free show at The Ville Headland, which had 1400 audience members with only two days’ notice.”

Cr Greaney said it was an incredible turnout for the month-long event.

“We pride ourselves on being the events capital of Northern Australia, and NAFA is proof that our city is the home of world-class events,” she said.

“Throughout the month of NAFA, Townsville has a chance to really shine. Everywhere you look, there are people out enjoying our beautiful weather and the incredible amount of art that we host across the city.

“We are thrilled to be able to bring nationally-acclaimed art to North Queensland each year during NAFA, and to be able to continue delivering this outstanding event even during the most trying times. This offering of art and culture is a mood booster for both locals and visitors who make the most of NAFA.

“Our NAFA team has worked hard with artists from across the country to go ahead with the festival in the face of COVID, and against all odds has pulled off a wonderful month of entertainment.

“Some of the excitement of NAFA will head back to Townsville later this year, including the postponed Tones and I concert. The NAFA team is continuing to work with artists to make sure they can return to Townsville when lockdowns ease.”

Cr Greaney said NAFA was a rousing success this year in spite of rolling COVID lockdowns across the country which resulted in 97 shows being forced to cancel during the month.

“The economic activation that NAFA provides to Townsville each year is extremely important for local businesses, from hospitality to retail to tourism,” she said.

“NAFA consistently provides a strong return on Council’s investment into the event and goes to show how powerful arts and entertainment can be for our economy, especially while businesses are still feeling the brunt of COVID’s effects.”

Member for Townsville and Resources Minister Scott Stewart said the global pandemic had been tough on regional cities across Australia.

“Townsville’s tenacity, ingenuity and flexibility during COVID-19 so soon after the floods have shown southerners what this city is made of,” Mr Stewart said.

“The Palaszczuk Government worked closely with Townsville City Council to secure the North Australian Festival of Arts 2021 for North Queensland’s biggest city and ensure its stunning success.

“NAFA encouraged locals to immerse themselves in the best of arts and culture and also inspired thousands of visitors to discover Townsville’s first-class tourism experiences from Cleveland Bay and Maggie, to the Reef and the spectacular views from Castle Hill.

“It’s the hard work of North Queenslanders in managing the health impacts of COVID-19 that has kept us safe and made it possible for Townsville to host a series of great events like the North Australian Festival of Arts.”

Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said NAFA demonstrated the importance of events to the Palaszczuk Government’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.

“Engaging events bring tourism, which in turn supports business and local jobs,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“Whether it’s Supercars, Ephemera or State of Origin, in 2021 Townsville has certainly enhanced its reputation as the North’s events capital.”

Baker Boy performing at NAFA 2021
Image caption: Baker Boy performing at NAFA 2021