Opinion

Shepparton Festival: The Director’s Diary

By Shepparton News

Director's Diary

It’s hard to believe the Shepparton Festival launches on Friday.

It goes without saying, but my team and I have been working tirelessly towards this festival.
It represents a mountain of work: 17 days; 60-plus events; 250 artists (not including the choir of over 150); and 40 venues.

As the creative director, I feel absolutely honoured, while also feeling the underlying pressures of ‘getting it right’ — big shoes to fill and 23 years of achievements and huge success to match.

On behalf of the Shepparton Festival committee, staff and volunteers I would like to say thank you to everyone involved (large or small) in the 2020 festival.

Without the generosity, motivation and collective positivity of our thriving community there is no way the Shepparton Festival would be leading up to its 24th year and claiming the title of longest-running regional arts festival in Victoria.

I urge those in the community or out of town reading this diary entry and thinking about attending or participating in the future — take that step forward and dive in.

This program is rich and bursting with the unique flavour of the Goulburn Valley, and sure to have something in it for everyone — actually, I am certain of it.

Now to the behind-the-scenes look at event life and being the festival director.

It’s like going on your favourite roller coaster. There are twists and turns, highs and lows, mild panic, sometimes nausea, but you are left with such adrenaline that you want to do it again and again. Maybe next time I’ll go on the roller coaster with no hands?

That’s the most fun…

This last week has been hectic. Full of media opportunities, like speaking at the Tourism Luncheon on Tuesday, chatting to Nicole Chvastek on ABC radio’s Statewide Drive show and an enormous amount of traction on social media. While at the same time trying to finish off finer details, logistical changes, and last-minute challenges that can cause some real complexities.

But the key is to just take all of these curveballs in our stride and continue to gain positive momentum, so ultimately we can kick some serious goals. The key is not to panic. Which I never do. Obviously.

In the rare event that myself or the team do get a little stressed, nights like the first rehearsal for Quarry Choir make it all worthwhile. I cried. Not in a sad way. In an emotional, overwhelmed, full of pride and joy way. I honestly thought at the time, this must be how John Head (and the creative directors before him) felt year after year creating this beautiful beast and then watching it come to life.

The anticipation is building. The hype. The nerves. I’ve said it 100 times, but I will never stop saying this — thank you to everyone who has ever contributed to the festival.

The Shepparton Festival would not be in its 24th year if it wasn’t for all of the amazing humans who have contributed to the past and future of the event. Together we evolve in such a positive and exciting way.

I sincerely hope everyone in the community is also feeling as excited for the event as I am. (Maybe minus all the nerves.)

This festival is made for you, and about you. It is for us all.

Jamie Lea is the creative director of the Shepparton Festival.