January 24, Sydney: A reflection with one week to go before we launch Festival 2019…
People often ask me how we go about preparing a festival, but I never have a very good answer, even for myself. If there were a recipe, I guess I wouldn’t follow it anyway. But in preparing any gathering, whether it’s a wedding or a conference or even a dinner party, there are phases.
Phase one is “architect”: the ‘blue skies’ dreaming or conceptual phase (this seems a long time ago) where anything is possible and there are no budgets or logistics to limit one’s imagination. Just big ideas and wonderful potential, program themes and expansive gestures. The following months are “engineer”: cycles of prioritising, shaping, developing, budgeting and planning to transform a broad concept into detailed reality. The hardest bit is “editor”, where beautiful ideas bite the dust when budget reality hits! Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture.
But a week before going public with the program (this is where we are RIGHT NOW) a wonderful thing happens. With the newly designed and printed program in your hands, you can see the Festival afresh from the audience view and once more get excited about the beautiful experiences you’ll be sharing. Perspective returns with renewed certainty of the vital role that festivals play as gathering places for our communities.
Visiting other festivals like MONA FOMA and Sydney Festival over the last week it’s been easy to see how festivals elevate a place, literally and in spirit. At the last two Sydney Festival events I’ve attended, Sydney Town Hall and Carriageworks have been dazzlingly transformed by artists. It’s something quite magical to see such familiar, solid civic surroundings reimagined as flexible play-spaces. The final transformation is that alchemy when the energy of the audience meets the energy of the artists. We look forward to sharing that buzz with you.
For our amazing Ten Days’ team it’s an incredibly intense time – there are launch presentations to prepare, site visits, travel plans, tracking the logistics and creative processes of all the festival artists and companies, venues to create, ticketing, lots of media and many lists on many whiteboards. Oh, and I’m rolling up my sleeves – I’m directing something for the Opening Weekend. Can’t wait!
We’re super-excited about our new Festival shape and about presenting this 10th Ten Days on the Island, refreshed and relevant to Tasmania in 2019. One week to go. Watch this space …