The 2015 Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival was a resounding success with attendance and tickets sales exceeding expectations with more than 2,000 people attending the event. The Balnaves Foundation increased the John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Prize to $7,000, and it was awarded to Adelaide artist Ross Morgan for The Girl with the Black Hair.
Community ownership and participation ensured the 2015 Festival was one of which to be proud. Live performances, competitions, workshops, exhibitions, Little Kids Art Zone and Festival Flavours created a program that drew on talent from the local, regional, national and international arenas.
Highlights included honky-tonk, opera, musical theatre, ukuleles, jazz, pipe bands, African drummers, sculpture, poetry, lino-cutting, cookery displays, cemetery walks, comedy, dream catchers, clowns, giant games, vintage cars, watercolours, silver-smithing, ceramics, textiles, puppetry, literary and World War I displays.
2015 UNESCO award
An additional highlight for 2015 was the honour bestowed on the festival at a special function hosted by the Governor of South Australia, His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AO, at Government House. The festival was recognised by the Adelaide Chapter of UNESCO as one of South Australia’s leading regional arts festivals and for its work in enhancing the cultural development of the region over the last 24 years.