NAFA’s $4.1m Boost

The inaugural NAFA events, including Strand Ephemera 2019, injected $4.1m into Townsville's region. PHOTO:

The success of the inaugural North Australian Festival of the Arts (NAFA) has been officially quantified, with more than $4.1 million fed directly into the Townsville region as a result of the month-long event.

With an initial investment of $850,000 from Council’s pre-existing budgets to stage the event, the figure represents almost 400% return on investment for the community in the form of direct and indirect event expenditure.

More than 102,000 people attended events at Strand Park and Queens Gardens with many more attending Fringe events in other locations including the Courthouse Theatre, Townsville Entertainment Centre, bars and pubs, and small theatres and performance halls.

“Townsville really voted on how they felt about NAFA with ticket sales reaching over $530,000 and our free events were incredibly well attended, too.”

Townsville City Council released the outcomes of the economic analysis today, however the actual impact is likely much higher as the report only compiled event attendance and participation data from bookings via Council’s own Ticketshop, although many Fringe events used other ticketing platforms; and not all Fringe events provided data for the analysis.

Community and Cultural Development Committee Chair Colleen Doyle said over 1,200 people were involved in turning the inaugural NAFA into an impressive event.

“Not only did NAFA provide over 1,000 artists a chance to perform in a major festival, it also created opportunities for 210 staff members and volunteers,” Cr Doyle said.

“The impact of major events is far-reaching and while there were over 1,200 people directly involved in NAFA, we also supported 81 suppliers and vendors.

“Importantly, over 90% of the people involved in pulling NAFA together were locals.

“That’s what really matters when we host major events like this – how can we provide an event that draws people in from not only Australia but all over the world and share those benefits with the community.”

NAFA by Number:


  • The cost of delivering NAFA was $1.6 million of which Council contributed $850,000 from existing budgets
  • The remainder of the cost was met by Box Office ticket sales, sponsorships, grants, and food and beverage revenue


  • Gross box office (ticket sales) of over $500,000
  • There were 73 sold out shows in the Spiegeltent and Queens Gardens venues.


  • Estimated to support almost 68.8 FTE jobs during July 2019
  • 1,002 artist jobs, of which 884 were locals
  • 81 suppliers and vendors, of which 47 were local
  • 48 arts organisations, of which 35 were local


  • 27.77% of survey respondents came to Townsville solely for NAFA 
  • Visitors to Townsville stayed on average 11 nights
  • Hotel occupancy for July was up 8.6% from 2018

Townsville City Council has confirmed that NAFA will return in July 2020, for which Council is seeking funding support from both the State and Federal Government.

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