The challenge of programming festivals for more than one city

The Artistic Directors of major festivals in Perth, Darwin, Brisbane and other mainland capitals only have to satisfy their local stakeholders. Not so for Tasmanian festivals like Mona Foma and Ten Days on the Island.

Festivals reflect the culture of the cities in which they’re held – perhaps even the personality of the city in question.

Getting the program right, therefore, is a particular talent. It requires considerably more than just assembling a shopping list of arts events; it’s about intuiting what will resonate with the local population and determining what’s missing in the local arts calendar every other week of the year.

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Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on 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 Living Legend in 2017. In 2020 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. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts