YOU ARE HERE FESTIVAL- THE SAGA SO FAR
Over the summer of 2010/11, as I was putting The Last Prom together and struggling to build my PT business, my friend Dave Finnegan was put in a sticky situation. Dave (pictured below dancing next to me), a writer and impresario whose experience and reputation far outstrips his still-tender years, had been approached by the Canberra Centenary and asked to fill the fringe-arts-festival sized gap in their program.
They have him 3 months, a pittance of funding and a High Concept: each event of the festival would be staged in vacant or repurposed shopfronts and public spaces in the Canberra CBD.
Under the pump in all but the most literal sense, Dave went to his known contacts first. This is where I got lucky.
Ever the opportunist, within one conversation I had up-sold my fledgling pop group into a live-concept-album-themed-costume-party-band-night. For some reason Dave placed his trust in me, and The Last Prom became the opening night event for the Inaugural You Are Here Festival in 2011.
It took place in a big stone room that was a Dick Smith’s and is now a MacDonalds. For the ten days of the festival Dave and his team of 14 or so festival co-ordinators/artists took this space over as our festival hub. I was one of them, acting as a runner or artist supervisor and producing another two or three small events (like the wrestlers and circus performers tuitional jam pictured below). One or two of my bands snuck onto the other live music bills, and a lot of my friends in the Canberra arts scene were involved in one way or the other.
It was, for me, an unprecedented experience. For someone who spent their whole time scrabbling around in the arts with a small immediate circle of collaborators, to suddenly be part of a larger machinery of super-skilled and super-positive artists with a little bit of money and marketing behind us was a quantum leap. Attendance for the festival blew expectations out of the water, and I was left emboldened to push my art farther than ever before.