Updated: Jun 6, 2021
Another year of the IF Maitland Indie Festival has come and gone, with this year being extra special for so many reasons. For starters, it was the year we launched the inaugural IF Maitland Art Fest, as well as the year that I made my debut as an attending author.
As you would all know by now I volunteer my time at IF Maitland as their Marketing Manager. This opportunity has allowed me to further develop my skills, knowledge, and expertise in relation to marketing, not-for-profit organisations, and arts festivals. Volunteering whilst studying for my Masters was an additional benefit as it allowed me to put the learnings from my degree and courses into practice, which saw a significant change in growth and engagement. In fact, I am proud to say that this year we saw six events completely sold out at this year's festivals, with one of these events being booked out twice after a release of additional tickets.
This year I also focused a lot more on our branding, something that I didn't previously have the opportunity to do due to having come on board for the inaugural festival the month of the festival launch last year. Coming on board as a Committee Member meant that I got to work on the socials year-round to build a stronger, more coherent tone of voice and colour scheme across our content curation. This was especially important with the last-minute addition of Art Fest, as it meant having to be strategic in how we presented both brands under the 'umbrella' of IF Maitland. It was a little bit of a challenge seeing as both festivals were using the one communication channel to target slightly different audiences, however, using keywords - such as #ifmaitland for Indie Festival, #ifmaitlandartfest for Art Fest, #ifmaitlandjiff for the Junior Indie Festival Funday, and #IF2021 for encompassing all events featured in 2021 - as well as using the appropriate logos (or the general 'IF' logo for all other content), this was achievable.
Being an attending author this year was a dream come true and one of the many goals on my author-to-do list. Firstly, I was a panelist on Saturday's 'Podcasts & Zine' event with Ben Allan ACS CSI. Here I got to share my knowledge on student media from my previous experience working with Yak Media and OPUS Magazine, as well as currently at UoN Writers' Club with their annual anthology. This event was moderated by Jamie Lewis, which I was very excited about as it is always a pleasure to work with him. It was also great meeting and chatting with Ben Allan - whose knowledge was on the Australian podcasting and film environments - and discovering how much overlap there was between our different mediums of storytelling.
Then, on Sunday 30th May, I hosted my very first book launch for my debut contemporary romance "Once We Were", which was released five months now. It was amazing to finally have that moment of launching my book face-to-face, which I hadn't had the opportunity to do until now due to COVID restraints. While it was only a small gathering of my friends (and some new faces) it really made my day, especially knowing how many of them had travelled out of their way to make the event. To make it even more meaningful, it was hosted in such a beautiful venue (Mansfield House Maitland) and was followed up by a book signing at the Festival Bookshop. Plus, my best friend (OPUS Media Officer and UoN Writers' Club President), Tyler Bridges, hosted the event and read her favourite (non-spoiler-filled) scene from my book, which I loved because what she had chosen was a surprise to even me, but happened to be a scene inspired by our trip together to Paris in high school. If there was one thing I could change about the event, however, it would be to also read one of my own fave non-spoiler-filled scenes from the book (which is the beginning of Chapter 4 for those who would like to know). While I had planned to read this scene, my 'festival hat' had come on during the event, and I became wary of how much time I had left, how I still had to do Q&As with the audience, and how I had to wrap up on time for next event to set up.
Lastly, I was also fortunate enough to host a workshop this year titled 'Sip n Write', a tribute to the UoN Writers' Club 'Scribblings on Servivettes' events, however with wine instead of coffee. This event was a small, intimate affair where I met two new local writers - Mark and Dylan. We chatted over drinks about the publishing industry and life as local writers - in fact, we were so busy talking that we didn't even do any writing!
Overall I expected to be very nervous at being an attending author at the festival, however, I surprisingly wasn't. I don't know if it was because I was quite distracted by marketing the event most of the time that I didn't have a moment to think about my own events all that much, or if over the year's working in the arts and at festivals my confidence in presenting in front of crowds has grown. Perhaps it was a combination of both? Either way, I did a lot better than I had anticipated I would for my first time, and now my future gigs don't seem so scary.
If you didn't make it to this year's festival, I hope you can join us for next year's (dates TBC).
And if you did attend, then please don't forget to share your photos with us on social media using the hashtags below & by tagging us! (There's a good chance I will reshare anything you post). Plus, I've also updated our Facebook page with photos from the 2021 Festival, which you're welcome to download for your own use.