Emerging Writers’ Festival Director

Lisa Dempster

My job at the Emerging Writers’ Festival is currently being advertised.

Strange – I have done so much at the organisation, but it stills feels like yesterday that I started. When I look at the role of Director, all laid out in the position description, I feel an overwhelming sense of pride. Before I started in the role, I had barely imagined myself as someone who could do all of those things. But I am. And I was then, too, I just didn’t quite know it yet. But the EWF knew it – and I am so grateful for that.

Since taking on the role at the start of 2010, I have felt that three years was a natural time frame to be in the position. And so it has turned out to be; with three festivals under my belt (and three roadshows by the time I sign out in November), I believe that both the organisation and me have gotten all the best bits out of each other, and we both need new perspectives in order to keep growing – for me, a new job challenge, and for the EWF, fresh insight from a new director.

I have been incredibly spoiled as EWF Director. The freedom, flexibility and creativity of the director role is simply amazing. Right from the start, the Emerging Writers’ Festival made me feel that my potential was limited only by my imagination. But even then, I couldn’t imagine the places it would take me. Physically – Edinburgh, Abu Dhabi, Ubud and Sharjah (twice). Professionally – Aus Co Emerging Leaders Development Program and British Council BookCase Conference. Personally – and perhaps most importantly – the festival has equipped me with confidence and courage. To work in a job that supports you to be audacious, express your individuality, experiment and take creative risks – well, we all know that kind of role just doesn’t come along every day.

I think any arts organisation benefits greatly from staff renewal. When I look back at the history of EWF and I can see the mark that each Festival Director before me made. The Emerging Writers’ Festival in particular is known for freshness – of ideas, people, and delivery – and although I will miss the role immensely, I can’t wait to see how the festival grows under the fresh gaze of a new director. (Could that new director be you?)

I keep getting asked, will I miss the festival? The answer is, of course, no. I’ve been a part of EWF for six years now – as an audience member, a panellist, a Programming Advisory Committee member, and as Director – and I look forward to being a part of the ongoing evolution of the festival; as a patron, perhaps, or maybe once again as an inspiration-seeking punter.