Literature festival ensures script is never the same
Rachel Feldberg, the Director of Ilkley Literature Festival.
Working for the festival means no two days are the same and I never know what’s coming when I switch on my laptop in the morning.
It starts at home in Otley at 8am clearing emails.
They are always varied and can range from an author telling me about a new book to one of our young writer’s group organisers with a great idea to the Arts Council calling a meeting on policy changes.
I spend a couple of uninterrupted hours sorting emails and admin at home and then travel to the Festival office in Ilkley.
I eat breakfast at my desk in the morning and then work through until around 2pm when I grab a sandwich.
My day is always an interesting mix of artistic and managerial. What many people forget is the festival is a business, so alongside speaking to authors and artists, I’m also managing all the festival staff and dealing with finance, analysis and reports.
With the festival in full swing at the moment I’m keeping a close eye on the ticket sales for each event, and the detailed analysis of comparative year- on-year sales, which gives me, Erica our assistant festival director, and Alex our head of marketing, a good overview on how effective our marketing is being and what we should do next.
As the festival receives public money, it’s really important to ensure it is spent the best way, giving as many people as possible access to amazing authors, artists and events.
But we can only do that if we spend effectively and keep a tight hold on our targets as we need to be able to make a relatively small amount of money go a long way.
Some of the funding we receive is from Arts Council England and during my day I’ll look over the financial spreadsheets Jody Kendall, our finance officer, has put together, which shape the quarterly report due in next week.
We also do a lot of work with young people and one project we have running at the moment is a really exciting piece involving four secondary schools in Leeds and Bradford.
Working with children whose first language is not English, it involves creative writing and digital animation.
The project is being evaluated academically and I’m currently reviewing reports on its progress from Alison, our head of education and outreach.
My job while the festival is running is all about problem solving,
We do a huge amount of forward planning so things run as smoothly as possible but now it’s all about sorting out challenges as they arise.
Organising something this diverse means my days during the run-up to it are filled with a huge variety of jobs.
From editing speeches for the actors taking part in Shaun
Speeches of Note
Usher’s to training our new stage managers, to deciding which poems need to hang where in this year’s festival exhibition about W.S. Graham and finding the right lighting for the after dark reading of Mary
Shelley’s in an old manor house where we can’t use actual candles.
For the first time at this year’s festival we’re having captions at some events for people who are hearing impaired.
It’s new to us, so there has been quite a bit of liaising with the agency to make sure everything is in place.
That’s another thing I love about this job, all the new things I get to investigate.
This year I‘ve been researching the right kind of headphones for a silent poetry disco, the brainchild of festival apprentice poet-inresidence, Ian Walker.
I usually work through until 5.30 or 6pm but during the festival days often end at 11pm.
In the evenings, if I’m not working, I sing with Ilkley Choral Society or rehearse with Otley Chamber Orchestra or get a night at the theatre.
I’m also a bit of a night owl so if I’m struggling with a budget or a piece of editing I’ll come back to it later in the evening.
When we get to the end of the festival, I’ll be taking a week off to recharge before we get started on the following year’s event.
I love that when I go to bed, I never know what I am going to face the following day.
That is what makes this such a fantastic and interesting job.
My days during the runup to it are filled with a huge variety of jobs.
Ilkley Literature Festival, which describes itself as the North’s most exciting literature festival, runs until Sunday, October 14.
For more details visit: http://www.ilkleyliteraturefestival.org.uk/
RACHEL FELDBERG:My job while the festival is running is about problem solving,