Career spotlight: Festival programmer

Artistic Directors get the media profile, but behind the scenes, other staff help to present work and wrangle the artists on show. What else do their jobs entail, and how did they get to where they are?
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Image: Perth Festival’s Vessel. Image by Yoshikazu Inoue, copyright Damien Jalet & Kohei Nawa.

At their best, international arts festivals don’t just transform cities – they forever change the lives of those cities’ inhabitants.

Indeed, some of the current crop of Australian artistic directors were shaped and informed by the festivals of their youth.

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Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on community radio station Three Triple R FM, and serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Festival Living Legend in 2017. In 2019 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize. Most recently, Richard was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Green Room Awards Association in June 2021.

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