Female CEO of the Year Awards 2022

CEO MONTHLY / Female CEO of the Year Awards 2022 5 Sep22107 The Adelaide Fringe is one of the most vibrant festivals in the world, featuring more than 1000 shows every year, across genres including music, cabaret, comedy, interactive, dance, circus and more. Success is entirely due to the immense, and intense, collaboration between festival organisers, artists, venues, presenters, promoters, funders, donors, government, council and others – and it’s Heather Croall who stands at the cross-section of them all. Heather graduated from the University of South Australia in 1991 and began her career making documentaries and running events in festivals. She worked at Adelaide Fringe in 1992 as a manager in the Star Club, started Shoot The Fringe, a Super 8 shootto-show film festival at the Adelaide Fringe and has had a distinguished career as a documentary producer and leader of interactive projects. For a decade, she was a festival director in the UK. All these experiences were crucial to Heather’s appointment as CEO/Director of the Adelaide Fringe in 2015. Heather’s work guides a talented team through some Adelaide Fringe is Australia’s biggest arts festival, seeing the city transform into a magical summer festival playground for a month every year. Since 1960, it has been one of the most loved festivals in the world, and in 2015, Heather Croall took on the role of Director and CEO. Her success has been recognised in CEO Monthly’s Female CEO of the Year Awards 2022. We take a closer look and catch up to find out more. of the most complex events of the year, coordinating every aspect that makes for a triumphant month-long festival. A key part of her work has been uniting everybody under the same principles to guarantee a successful event. “Over the last few years, the Adelaide Fringe team have worked together to define our core values and write our manifesto,” Heather explains. “These are important to our staff and communities – they define how we operate and work every day. We are collaborative and inclusive; we are creative and we dare to be different we are passionate and committed to leading industry change and to working in partnership with our stakeholders.” Over the last six years, Heather has overseen enormous change within the Adelaide Fringe, focusing on the incredible potential of the digital revolution. The team has implemented a new ticketing system and building a bespoke Digital Platform for artist and venue registration. Croall says the team is “committed to continuous improvement and we know that the digital journey never stops. We are always listening to feedback, implementing solutions and improving our offering.” Navigating brave new waters is part and parcel of Heather’s innovative approach. Beyond the ticketing system, she is always trying to create opportunities for those who might find themselves locked out from old power systems. “I want the Fringe to be as inclusive as possible,” Heather says. “Wherever we can, we aim to remove the barriers to participation. The Fringe is an Open Access model, we are Grassroots Up and not Top Down - we are here for the artists and presenters who take a risk and present on the Fringe and we want to help them thrive.” Such an attitude has earned Heather a reputation as a disruptive leader, because of her bold approach to the Adelaide Fringe. “Disruptive leaders can often be labelled as trouble-makers because their leadership usually involves challenging the status quo,” she says. “I think women in leadership need to be prepared for being painted in this light, especially those who are trying to change course, question old power-models, redistribute wealth and power more equally – all these things are at the core of disruptive leadership and driving innovation.” What’s clear is that the results speak for themselves, with ticket sales enjoyed double digit percentage growth year on year taking ticket sales from 440,000 in 2014 to 855,000 tickets sold in 2020 just before the pandemic hit. 2021 saw the Adelaide Fringe as one of the only festivals in the world to present a season, also going ahead in early 2022. Even during these unprecedented times, Heather and her team were able to secure sales of 700,000 per year within stringent COVID-19 restrictions. Heather’s success comes from a deep understanding of what the Adelaide Fringe is for. It’s for everyone to enjoy, and a place where artistry comes first. No matter what how experimental or out-there, she knows that there is a place for it in Adelaide Fringe. She is still an active part of the filmmaking community, with her most recent film winning the audience award at the Adelaide Film Festival- it has enjoyed international film festival success and can be viewed here: https://www. docplay.com/shows/yerold-faither We can’t wait to see what she does next! Company: Adelaide Fringe Name: Heather Croall Email: heather.croall@ adelaidefringe.com.au Festival Management CEO of the Year 2022 (Australia): Heather Croall Photo Credit: Lee Knowles The Headshot Creative