The City of Greater Bendigo has won a prestigious award for its staging of Richard Wagner’s epic opera the Ring Cycle at the Ulumbarra Theatre.
The Performance Arts Centres Australia (PAC Australia) Impact Award acknowledged the Ring Cycle’s significant cultural and economic impact on the region and the Victorian state.
The $5M critically acclaimed Ring Cycle blockbuster produced by Melbourne Opera in partnership with Bendigo Venues & Events (BV&E) was a major tourism draw for Bendigo and the region.
The Ring Cycle has only been performed five times anywhere in Australia and the Bendigo production was the first time it had ever been performed outside a capital city.
The award honours change-makers and trailblazers in the performing arts sector that demonstrate leadership, innovation, and significant economic and cultural impact.
PAC Australia is the national peak body representing and supporting performing arts presenters, venues, producers, and creators by providing leadership, building capacity, and facilitating relationships that strengthen the connection between the art and the audience.
The entire Ring Cycle was performed three times over 12 weekends between March and April at Ulumbarra Theatre earlier this year, attracting opera fans from all over Australia and from 11 different countries.
The Ring Cycle consisted of four individual operas, Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung and involved more than 350 Australian singers, musicians, creatives, technicians and event staff.
More than a third of the workforce were local with eight chorus members and seven musicians performing alongside the star-studded Melbourne Opera cast.
BV&E Manager Julie Amos said it was a great honour to receive the national award at a PAC special ceremony on Wednesday evening.
“The City is thrilled to win this prestigious accolade,” Ms Amos said.
“This is fantastic recognition for our talented staff at BV&E from technicians to ticket sellers, to our volunteer ushers, all of whom went above and beyond to welcome visitors and support our partners, Melbourne Opera, to stage an incredible production at our world-class venue, Ulumbarra Theatre.
“Despite a significantly smaller budget compared to the $15.3M budget for Adelaide’s Ring Cycle in 2004 and $20M budget for Melbourne in 2013, BV&E’s partnership with Melbourne Opera was able to achieve outstanding artistic results, whilst being resourceful and efficient.
“The partnership relied on marketing, event management and venue support from the City which produced a positive return through ticketing fees, commissions and staff salaries, in addition to a significant contribution to the local economy.
“It was a bold and ambitious move to present the Ring Cycle in Bendigo, but our commitment to staging the extraordinary 15-hour opera marathon paid off beyond all expectations. It reinforced Bendigo’s reputation as a leading cultural and creative tourism destination, and provided opportunities for our community to participate in an experience that is normally only available in capital cities.
“In just five weeks, the Ring Cycle contributed $4.36M to the local Bendigo economy with a $7.22M economic impact across Victoria.
“The Ring Cycle attracted 3,785 attendees from around Australia and the world and delivered a festival of over 30-themed events over 37 days.
“Nearly four per cent of ticket purchasers were from overseas and 25 per cent were from interstate which is a new audience reach at BV&E.
“The Bendigo program was developed to entice visitors to remain in the region between performances and this supported accommodation operators, hospitality and retail businesses, and local attractions.
“Wagner fans were thrilled to see this epic opera staged in a regional setting with so many cultural offerings to explore. The accompanying opera festival program had a unique range of events including a concert 60 metres underground at the Central Deborah Goldmine, a ‘behind the scenes’ gala dinner on the stage at Ulumbarra, performances at Langley Estate, opera talks, masterclass sessions and much more.
“BV&E will leverage this success to continue fostering a vibrant creative community, nurturing Bendigo’s position as a leader in performing arts programs and cultural activity and to inspire our community and attract visitors to our region.”
Ring Cycle’s impact on the region:
• $4.36M contributed to the local economy*
• $7.22M impact across the Victorian region*
• 3,785 attended in person
• 1,880 people watched online via the Australian Digital Concert Hall
• 25% of people were from interstate
• 3.4% hailed from overseas
• Ticketholders came from all Australian states and the ACT, with New South Wales forming the largest cohort
• Overseas visitors were from Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the USA
• Visitors spent an average of 7.8 nights in Greater Bendigo specifically for the Ring Cycle, with the longest stay recorded at 16 nights
• An average of five additional nights were spent in other Victorian areas, with an overall average stay of 12.8 nights in Victoria
• 77% of the audience were visiting the Ulumbarra Theatre for the first time
• 60% attended two to five ancillary events during their stay
• 74% of surveyed ticketholders reported an overall satisfaction rate of 91% or higher
• 70% of surveyed ticketholders were likely, or very likely to return to a performance at Ulumbarra Theatre
• Visitors were predominantly aged over 55 and they started planning their visit six months before the event
• The Ring Cycle created unprecedented media coverage for Bendigo's performing arts sector, reaching a cumulative potential audience of over 16,592,918
*Figures based on REMPLAN reports from data received from audience surveys.