Meet Creative Producer Will Dawson! He’s working on some our Late Night Lit events featuring the best of Melbourne’s literary journals, he’s got a million skills, and he knows the best of the best when it comes to festivals.
Tell us a little bit about yourself! What do you do, and how have you found the experience working with the Emerging Writers’ Festival so far?
Like so many in the arts I dabble in a bunch of things – I am a producer, event manager, broadcaster and (occasional) writer. I’m also in my final semester of a Master of Arts, majoring in arts management. Sometimes all those things feel pretty disparate, but working with EWF has been great because it combines so many of my interests and skills. Being able to take control over a section of the program has been such a thrill, and working with a bunch of incredible writers and editors is really wonderful. I’m loving it.
Which writers and artists are you excited about at the moment?
There’s so many awesome writers in the program for this year’s EWF, they’re all amazing! I’m still relatively new to Melbourne so I’ve loved immersing myself the scene down here. I’m loving Jana Perkovic’s musings on theatre and politics, Martin McKenzie-Murray’s incredible investigative journalism and the pop culture shenanigans from the kids at the Rereaders podcast.
I’m also a big theatre nut, and there’s so much amazing work coming out of Melbourne at the moment. People like Nicola Gunn, Emma Hall and the girls at She Said Theatre are totally killing it right now.
Can you tell us about the last book you read and loved, and what’s currently on your to-read pile?
I’m going to Russia later this year, so I’ve been (attempting to) dive into the world of Russian literature. I’m still working my way up to War and Peace, so I’m currently reading Day of the Oprichnik by Vladimir Sorokin. It’s a contemporary novel set in near-future Russia where people inject hallucinatory fish and drive Mercedes with dog’s heads as hood ornaments. So naturally it’s giving me very realistic expectations of what it’s going to be like there.
Have you got any advice for those who want to get into arts management?
I’m always cautious about recommending people to work for free, because it’s so important that we value the contribution people make in the arts – whether that’s artists themselves or the people behind the scenes. In saying that though, interning is such a good way to put yourself out there and get some practical experience. Just make sure that you’re going to get something out of it, and it’s not only free labour for an under-resourced company (which let’s face it, is like every arts organisation ever).
Also it may seem like a no-brainer, but consume art voraciously – if you’re into theatre, see shows every week. If it’s writing, read lots! Go to gigs, meet artists, writers, producers. There is such a plethora of arts festivals and events in Melbourne, you’d be mad not to make the most of it.
Have you been to any events lately that you feel compelled to recommend?
The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is one of my favourite times of the year. There’s so many young up-and-coming comics busting their guts in rooms all around the city – don’t just go and see people you’ve seen on the TV! I’ve also been loving the Moth’s monthly story slam events at Howler, and I’m trying to convince myself that I’d have the courage to get up and tell a story one day.
And Next Wave Festival, which I’m also really excited about – the program is excellent and Next Wave has a reputation for being more than a few steps ahead of the pulse when it comes to emerging art and artists.
Can you give us a sense, in a few words, of what you’re working on for EWF 2016?
I’m working with some of Melbourne’s best lit journals and mags to put on a couple of late night events throughout the festival. I can promise they won’t be your standard night of readings!
Will Dawson is a creative producer, event manager, broadcaster and writer. He has produced and managed events for 2high Festival, Visible Ink, QMusic and Museum Victoria. He is a co-host of Art Smitten on SYN and has written for Junkee and AWOL. He is currently studying a Masters in Arts Management at RMIT.