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Kickstart your festival career!
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Release 1.11
Kickstart your festival career!
This toolkit for World Cultures Connect has been developed by cultural producer, consultant, and artistic director of ‎Rako International, Letila Mitchell, to provide some start up points for artists that want to mobilise internationally with a focus on international festivals. The international festival circuit is an exciting but challenging place with a lot of competition for slots. The key is being prepared, starting small and building a strong, sustainable network. There are a lot of resources, best practice models and tool kits out there to provide you with a guide to get where you want to be and this tool kit can be your first step to kick start your own research and international plan.
Which festival is best for me?
• Research all the festivals out there, find festivals that have visions that align with your work
• Research the artistic director, understand what their vision is, go through their past line ups, read about the artists they have booked, check the reviews and find out what works did well at those festivals. Be inspired by them.
• Know who you are as an artist, maintain your authenticity and find a festival or a gallery that speaks to you, rather than go for the festival or space that everyone says is the one to be at. It may not be the one for you!
• Start small, build your networks, develop genuine relationships
• Research and make a plan - where you want to go, why, with who and work out how your will get there.
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A solid financial and logistic plan is essential.
The Submission process
You know your work but how do you effectively communicate and present yourself so that others know what you do?
1. A simple but effective bio:
• One page outline of your work
• One paragraph summary of your work
• Head shot of you and your key people
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2. Beautiful images, live and audio samples
In order to sell your work or show festivals, galleries, events you need amazing photos, catchy and moving video clips and lots of links to your work
Develop it into a promo kit that is accessible and easy to pass on. For performing artists most festival expect that you will have an EPK (Electronic Press Kit) This kit can include:
• Your top 10 photos of your work
• Live audio and video samples
• Footage from your rehearsals as well as your finished production
This all sounds expensive but there are simple, cheap and effective ways to do this:
• Use yours and your teams smart phones to do this
• Talk with your local media and ask for their photos and footage
• Put it together on free sites like Wix, Weebly or even develop a Facebook page specifically for this work
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3. Have you got a following? Are you recognised?
Festival Directors, curators, programmers need to know that what you put on paper is actually realised. We can all write a great script, or talk about the work we are developing, but have we actually produced results?
Collect your media clippings
Links to sources, etc
Show that you have a solid social media presence
If you get booked, then you need to be prepared to communicate your technical needs
Production budget:
Write down all your costs to make the first production so that you know what it costs to make, how much you need to tour it and if it is commercially viable. If you want to tour it you need to make sure people can afford you especially if you’re starting out
Costing and Pricing:
Having all this information will help you communicate your performers fees. Be aware that only a small handful of festivals pay for all your costs including airfares, accommodation etc. Most will only pay performance fees. So be sure to check this before you make your application and ensure you have the means or access to funding to support travel.
Technical riders, stage plots, production notes
Festivals will expect you to be able to communicate well ahead of time all your technical requirements. This should then form part of your contract. This is an important element to ensure you have the technical support needed to ensure you are able to perform. You should also communicate any sacred, cultural protocols that need to be observed as well as any safety requirements needed. For example if you are a fire dancer it is important to communicate the kind of fuel needed, and safety measures to be put in place. Most festival personnel will work with you on this aspect once you are in their system.
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For visual artists, if you aren't travelling with you work it needs to be ready to hang and have clear instructions from you on how you want it presented. You should have your labels done and any
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other write ups you would like to go with your work. Most often if you are showing at a professional gallery all these details will be discussed with you as part of your artists agreement.
Finally be sure you are ready
• Evaluate and Understand why it is you want to go international. Is it your aim to make a living? to develop communities? or just to travel? and will going international make that happen?
• If you are part of a team make sure everyone is on the same page, understand what your teams aims are and does it match yours?
• Look at your work. Is it the best it can be? Access it, Critique it. Is it different? How is it unique?
• Does it say what you want it to say? Does it tell a story that no one has heard
Be proud of what you have done, but be willing to change, adapt, shape it and reshape it..and be willing to wait if you’re not ready
You’ve been booked by a festival, or approached to be represented by a gallery! Now what!
Ensure you have a good contract or agreement in place. If you cant afford legal advise, use the internet to research some good templates, ask other artists you might know who have already toured, reach out to arts organisations and networks for advise.
Have your business cards ready so that you can build your network. The important part of beginning your career in festivals is to build on every experience. Create meaningful relationships with other artists, producers and festival personnel no matter what role they play in the festivals. Relationships are the key thing to building a sustainable career.