One of the beautiful things about having a whole year to plan and execute a writers’ festival is that you have time to think about things like creating a festival blog.
In the seven months we had to prepare the first Noted festival, we were so busy trying to plan events, find money to fund those events and find artists to whom to give that money for featuring in those events, that the bells and whistles of being a human – calling our mums, chewing food, speaking in complete sentences – were simply not on our radar.
Well, this time, we’re in the good books of our respective mummies, dedicating time to mastication and conjugating our verbs: welcome to our dedicated festival blog – for information about our artists, Canberra and our vision, and most importantly for the pieces of self-promotion we can’t convince a reputable publication or website to host.
In that spirit, we thought the best way to launch this blog would be by introducing the four key members of Noted 2016’s team. Our co-directors are Lucy Nelson and Yasmin Masri, who together set the creative direction for the festival. Lucy will be handling big picture content and production duties and our new children’s events; Yasmin is our bricks and mortar and is responsible for organisational strategy and logistics. Our producers are Daisy Douglas and Shu-Ling Chua. Daisy will be curating our digital events stream and Shu-Ling will be in charge of programming our slew of live events around Canberra during the festival’s dates.
As our applications for artists (and to appear at our Independent Publishing Fair) are still open (they close at midnight, Sunday 29 November), let’s begin by asking what you’re going to be looking for in applicants.
Lucy: I’m looking for a happy marriage between quality and diversity. We are keen to include artists (and, consequently reach out to audiences) who hail from as many different walks of life as possible. My priorities will be securing artists who understand the ethos of the festival: social inclusion, artistic playfulness and experimentation. A complaint frequently levelled at the Canberra arts community is that it’s insular and impenetrable. Whether this is a truth or a myth, it would be great if we could work at reversing that.
Shu-Ling: As a writer of colour, diversity is incredibly important to me, and by that, I don’t just mean artists from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, but also queer artists, artists with disabilities, regional artists … and I’d love to see new artists – even if you’ve never been a festival artist before, apply!
Daisy: I am really interested in the idea of local and transatlantic collaboration. Having come over to Australia from Glasgow six weeks ago, I’ve made some really fascinating cross-disciplinary connections with people in Scotland, England, Berlin, Belgium and Canada, and I am hoping to expand on the idea of how to create work within a festival context that can be accessible to the entire world, as well as the artistic community of Canberra.
What is it that attracts you to helping create this writers’ festival?
Yasmin: Festivals open up opportunities for participation, collaboration and re-framing of creative practice that are hard to find elsewhere. Canberra is a particularly great place to direct a festival – the combination of grassroots, territory and national cultural organisations here make for an exciting mix of partners. Noted is a great chance for artists to move out of their comfort zones. These events can get people writing in unusual spaces around Canberra.
Daisy: I come predominantly from a performance background, with a keen interest in visual art and aesthetic, so thinking about how that can influence and work with the digital stream of Noted is something I’d like to play with. I am also interested in bringing different artists together to challenge their own artistic form, and how technology has influenced and filtered through our everyday existence, how that can be explored within the festival in new and innovative ways. I’ve worked on various festivals in assistant producer, programmer and producer roles, and a lot of my most important learning has been about an audience’s journey through the entirety of an event or experience. To allow an audience to cultivate their own personal route, but supporting the entirety of the program so that everyone interacting, witnessing or experiencing could expand their understanding of something, be shocked, interrogate their own artistic practice and ultimately understand the world in a different way. I’m very into shifts of perspective.
Shu-Ling: I love words, being inspired and meeting new people, so producing a writers’ festival is perfect. The writing community is incredibly supportive and generous and I hope to continue adding to this, especially in Canberra. Scissors Paper Pen gave me my first ‘big break’ as a reviewer for You Are Here (another excellent local arts festival, I might add) so I’d like to give it a shout-out. Scissors Paper Pen does an amazing job of supporting young, emerging writers in Canberra. I’d also like to give a shout-out to local independent bookstores like Paperchain, Book Passion and Harry Hartog and The Paperback Bookshop in Melbourne. Many people, including locals, have little idea just how literary and artistic Canberra is. Now is an exciting time to be in this city and I like to think we’re part of the reason why!
Lucy: Canberra is full of people with enquiring minds. Given that we often get overlooked every time a major international act announces their tour venues, it’s also full of hungry audiences. I want to give those audiences something unique to sink their teeth into and chew on. In the past I’ve run literary events for adults and dance events for children. This year, I’m really excited to combine those by heading up Noted’s kids stream. One of my favourite ever festival events was part of You Are Here festival in 2014. It was called Boogie Battalion and involved leading an army of tiny disco soldiers through the centre of Canberra with a loud danceable tunes hooked up to a giant tricycle. It will be my duty and privilege to get kids and adolescents as excited about words as those children were about doing the twist.
A brief introduction to our team this may be, but you can find out more about our directors, producers and curators (including BAD!SLAM!NO!BISCUIT!’s Andrew Galan and Grapple Publishing’s Duncan Felton) by visiting notedfestival.com/the-2016-team. If you’d like to appear at Noted in 2016 as an artist or publisher, or if you’re an aspiring arts curator who might be interested in our curator development opportunity, our window for applications is open until Sunday 29 November 2015. Follow the links on the left-hand side of the page. Oh, and it would be remiss of us not to mention that you can follow us on Twitter @NotedFestival and on Instagram @NotedFestival, and you can like us on Facebook at facebook.com/NotedFestival. Stay tuned for more self-hosted self-promotion!