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One of Sydney Festival's biggest shows has been cancelled due to bushfire concerns

Sydney Opera House smokey CC 2020
Photograph: Flickr/Ian Sanderson

While bushfire benefit gigs and events are popping up around the city, one group of international artists has decided to cancel their visit to Australia due to concerns about the bushfire crisis and air pollution. 

Opening Night, starring French acting great Isabelle Adjani, was set to be one of the highlights of this year's Sydney Festival, with a week of shows at the Sydney Opera House from January 21 to 26. But Sydney Festival has today announced the season will not go ahead, due to health concerns related to fire-affected air quality in Sydney,” with all ticketholders given full refunds.

Sydney Festival director Wesley Enoch said in a statement: “On behalf of the people of Sydney, we are extremely disappointed. We have been in constant communication with all international and Australian based companies in relation to any concerns arising from the current fire situation in NSW and we have been buoyed by their responses.

“Overwhelmingly, individual artists and companies – both local and from overseas – have responded by asking how they can help or what they can do to support relief efforts once they are on the ground in Sydney for the festival. 

“The arts community understands the importance of carrying on and also acknowledges the powerful role that art, culture and the act of coming together can play at a time like this. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts and assurances, the Opening Night team has chosen not to come.”

Sydney Festival today announced its own benefit for the bushfires this Saturday January 11 at the Metro Theatre. Regurgitator, Custard, Dan Sultan, Neptune Power Federation, Polish Club and Art Vs Science are all joining the bill to raise money for the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Appeal and WIRES.

There's still plenty more to see at this year's Sydney Festival. Check out our picks of the program.

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