Justyna Jochym: Putting the spotlight on SA’s arts scene

27 July 2022

Justyna Jochym has worked in the world’s art epi-centres, but her love for festivals meant she found her true home in South Australia.

If there’s one thing South Australians know how to do well, it’s celebrate.

Our reputation as Australia’s ‘Festival State’ means every month of the year is packed with world-leading arts, culture and sporting events, which are increasingly capturing the attention of global audiences and arts industry professionals.

So strong is the scene, it took international festival curator Justyna Jochym just three days to fall in love with Adelaide and decide to move her career — which graced the bright lights of Broadway and the contemporary art scene in Poland — to the other side of the world.

“We came in March 2017, when three of our wonderful festivals were on: WOMADelaide, the Adelaide Festival and the Adelaide Fringe,” Justyna said.

“I felt something within me awaken (while) I was here

“There was a sense of momentum of activity and of…joy.

“We…spent a really comprehensive amount of time exploring the city’s arts and cultural offerings and it was really by day three that I made the decision to come back to South Australia and began scheming about how I could make that happen.”

Fast-forward five years, and Justyna is now CEO of Festival City Adelaide, a role which sees her research and advocate for the education, sustainability, wellbeing, tourism and economic impacts that festivals deliver.

According to Justyna, while South Australia has long-been known for its festivals locally, we’re on the precipice of expanding this reputation internationally.

“Whether it’s through theatre networks, whether it’s through music, whether it’s through literature…there’s a lot of fantastic individuals here in the state who work quite actively within those international networks,” Justyna said.

“We’ve got some great personalities representing South Australia on the world stage.”

Able to hold its own among the world’s art epicentres — New York, London, Italy, Brazil — Justyna finds purpose and clarity living, and working, in Adelaide.

“Broadway is excellent. It’s very lively, but it’s also very busy,” Justyna said.

“You can’t hear yourself think. You can’t stop on the street corner and wonder about what you’re going to do next.

“South Australia makes me feel expansive. It makes me feel like there’s air in my lungs and like I am making a contribution and that I can palpably and tangibly make a difference.”

A difference she hopes will propel South Australia’s arts and festival scene further into the international spotlight.

“What attracted me to this place was the fact that I could be a part of bringing it further to the fore and further onto the main stage of the international art scene,” she said.

“I think people and audiences really want to [feel] that sense of connection to each other and to something a little bit bigger; higher than themselves.

“So I’m very excited for South Australia to really embrace arts and culture and creativity as a central motivating force towards that purpose; towards opening up and deepening those connections even further with the world because the arts deliver on that promise over and over again.”