Where Do We Go From You Are Here?

0 Comments 19 March 2012

- By Ashley Orr

On the second last day of the You Are Here festival, Scissors Paper Pen’s Rosanna Stevens expertly chaired a panel of the YAH directors, Yolande Norris, Adam Hadley and David Finnigan, to discuss the festival’s past, present and future.

When broached the question of just how different YAH 2012 was from YAH 2011, David noted one great advantage: time. The 2011 festival was put together in a mere 100 days, while this year the lead-up of 6 months proved invaluable. YAH 2012 also benefitted from a greater variety of art forms and, as Yolande pointed out, a greater public awareness of what YAH has to offer. This awareness is, in part, due to the directors’ commitment to maintain an active presence in social media whilst also manning ‘The Newsroom’ which acted as the festival’s hub and an impromptu event space.

Though all three directors emphasised the importance of appealing to a variety of audiences, Yolande noted the local media’s tendency to attach words like “alternative”, “underground”, “youth” and “emerging” to YAH. At best, this label-fest does little to describe the festival in any meaningful way. At worst, it deters audiences who don’t see themselves as part of these narrow categories. For Hadley, the need for balance between giving the festival context whilst appealing to diverse audiences is an ongoing issue for YAH.

The panel’s audience was also given a chance to broadcast their views about YAH. In evident nostalgia for the festival’s end, some wanted YAH’s successful Facebook page to remain active in continuing to promote artists after the festival’s close. Others suggested artist-led workshops be incorporated into next year’s program, just as the panel discussions made their debut in YAH 2012. Perhaps the most contested question was one posed by David to the audience concerning the place of interstate artists in YAH. Opinions were divided between making YAH an exclusively Canberra artist festival and one with a greater interstate presence, while still more opted for a comparative middle ground, as they hoped for collaboration between Canberra artists and the world “out there”. I think Yolande summed it up best when she said that interstate artists shouldn’t be those of the fly-in, fly-out variety, but should stay more than two hours and give something back to Canberra.

In other words, YAH welcomes all, as long as you’re willing to stay with us for the ride.

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