As the festive season unfolds and the year draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on the extraordinary...
For most of the year, making a festival is an exploratory journey across a landscape that takes in an expansive horizon, criss-crossed with roads that twist and turn and a few that lead nowhere. Then, as we near our destination, three mountain-peaks loom: program signoff, brochure deadline and launch. That’s where the team is right now – at the pointy end of festival making, with those three mountains staring down at us and just five months to go until Ten Days on the Island 2021. (The Festival itself is the fun bit.)
It’s always a time of high activity, and our new Burnie Portside office – so quiet when we came out of lockdown – is a buzzing nerve centre of Festival creation. Almost every desk is now full of brilliant, talented people, many of them new to the team. Among the latest to join are Maddie Korn, our Program Manager, now running free after two weeks of quarantine in Devonport, and Jessie Brough, who will manage our crew, volunteers and COVID-safety (didn’t have one of those last year!), making sure that all Ten Days on the Island events are not only COVID-19 regulation-compliant and safe, but that rich, welcoming audience experiences are always at the heart of our Festival.
Back again for 2021 is our super-talented in-house designer Carolyn Watson who creates such elegant, stylish and fun ways of telling our story. The design, the look and feel, the ‘vibe’ of the Festival is one of the sharpest tools we have to express how we feel in our community, in our time and place. The experiences of 2020 have certainly left their mark, but 2021 is also our 20th anniversary – a special celebration. So right now, and for the next few weeks up to Christmas, under Caro’s meticulous design eye, we are deep in the process of creating the website, brochure and all kinds of delightful flourishes to enliven and animate our Ten Days on the Island-ness in Festival spaces across the island – you certainly won’t miss us! It’s an exciting, exacting process, working with each Festival artist, creative team and collaborator, to ensure that every page is as attention grabbing as possible, and every detail of every event is accurate by the time the brochure goes to the printer and the website goes live.
Now, as the focus moves from ‘creative’ to ‘operational’ mode in each area of the office, it’s exciting to see the artistic program come together as a whole rather than floating out there in hundreds of creative minds and computer screens. The metaphor for this coming-together is Caro’s program pagination, an installation of 60-something pages blue-tacked to a wall in the corridor, each event coded with coloured marker and post-it notes. Laid out chronologically, it’s our first glimpse of how our audience will navigate and journey through the three weekends of the 2021 Festival. It’s also a sign, like the approach of warm summer days, that we’re reaching the pointy end of our Festival-making.
We’ll be making some exciting announcements soon – watch this space.