So the You Are Here festival has finished. Thanks heaps to everyone who came, everyone who took part, everyone who commented or checked out the photos and videos via the internet, all that good jazz.
A few people have asked us, ‘Will You Are Here happen next year?’ The answer is, we don’t know. It depends a lot on what people have to say about it. If people say that it worked, then there’s a good chance it’ll go ahead again. If people think it was a good concept but point out problems in how it was carried out (just quietly: there were a few of these), then the festival can be re-examined, repaired or possibly rebuilt from scratch to address these. If people think it should be scrapped and replaced by something else (or by nothing at all), then they should have their say and make sure they get heard.
What we need to know is this:
1. What did you like about You Are Here?
2. What did you dislike?
3. What needs to change to make the festival better?
This is not just for those people who attended the festival, but also for those who just heard about it from friends or via the internet. The opinion of people who didn’t come are just as important as those of people who did. If you were interested by the printed brochure but turned off by the language in the event blurbs, if you wanted to come to events but they were scheduled at inconvenient times, if you love theatre and art and music but hate the idea of seeing it in a shopfront… all that is valuable to know.
Some interesting critiques of the festival have already been provided – I recommend Zoya Patel’s Lip Magazine article:
One concern is that the festival hasn’t managed to reach or represent enough different groups from the Canberra arts community. Although involvement in the actual coordination of the festival has been pretty equal in terms of gender… representation in terms of female performers and artists has been less apparent… where are all the girls? It’s questions like these that will need to be looked at, if the festival is to continue on next year.
Also worth checking out are some of Warwick Lynch’s comments on this very forum, particularly his debate with Hadley (near the end of the thread):
I’ve made mention of the Greens press release pushing the Re-new Canberra initiative in that initial comment, one of the things pushing me to discuss this other point of view is because In a few weeks the legislative assembly will be voting on the Re-new Canberra initiative funding, setting a precedent for wider community involvement with You Are Here could really help this cause, after all this is exactly what You Are Here is trying to achieve right? A lasting engagement between local government & local experimental or fringe arts practitioners year round?
Anthony Hayes’ comments regarding the relationships between artists, festival producers, property owners and the government offer a fairly frank perspective on the festival’s existence:
In the realm of the ‘ought’, the You Are Here festival admirably points to the empty shop spaces and asks ‘why can’t we create here?’ However such questions cannot be adequately answered by well meaning (or otherwise) art bureaucrats doling out cash. Too much depends upon the whim and largesse of the capricious patrons of the state and controllers of wealth
Lastly, the Fixed.org.au forum for fixed-gear bicycle enthusiasts hits exactly the right note in talking about the festival – totally irreverent piss-taking but with some constructive criticism thrown in:
EzyLee: It is part of the You Are Here festival, which should be renamed You Are Hipster.
Klips: I think it’s more “your artsy idea which would never get government funding on its own can finally be done somewhere with a potential for actual attendance here” festival. I support the idea of an arts festival, and I think they’ll learn lessons from this (e.g. make things have clearer objectives than just “show up on a bike”)
I should point out that in the last few days, we’ve begun researching renaming and rebranding the festival in line with EzyLee’s suggestion.
So! Comment! Say something! How to do it! You have three options:
1. Leave a comment on this post.
2. Visit You Are Here on Facebook and leave a comment there.
3. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, for real.
Thank you all –
Wrestlers and circus performers sharing skills at the Bally Artist Jam. Top of page: Roasters After-Hours Barrage, Lonsdale Street Roasters. Images by Holly Orkin.