Q&A with Jes Layton, EWF16 Creative Producer
How did you find the experience of being a Creative Producer?
This was actually my first internship opportunity, and it’s happened to set an incredibly high standard. I imagined myself picking up administrative slack, coffee and not really engaging with the nitty gritty elements of the festival, but boy was I wrong. EWF gave me real responsibilities, real opportunities for creativity and — as the position title suggests — producing. From being the creative source of individual EWF events, managing negotiations, liaising with artists, to drumming up prizes and outside involvement, and of course taking action when things went wrong. It was a jam-packed couple of months but at the same time seemed over in a moment.
Writing is mostly a very solitary activity, long hours alone often in various states of frustration, and it was really amazing to see just how much more there is to writing than just writing, by expanding my skills beyond the creative into the professional and practical sphere. I really felt ‘in’ on the literary community, surrounded by equally passionate and creative people, all working towards the same thing.
What are some of the things you learnt in your time as an EWF Creative Producer?
So much both in terms of practical skills, things only learnt through experience and in terms of creative boundaries (protip: there are none).
One thing that really hit home for me was the amount of work and love that went into planning and bringing something like EWF to life. As an attendee, I knew objectively that there is a lot of effort and work put into something like this. But being a Creative Producer, forging new connections, feeling charged with ideas and creativity — it didn’t feel like work. The festival is like your creative baby, and there’s so many co-parents you’re interacting with in order to raise this kooky-kid (often on their own time) that it really fostered this sense of community. I gained a very real appreciation for the way the lit community comes together and works hard to celebrate literature while helping to shape it for the future and support emerging artists.
What were some of your highlights of the festival experience?
It was incredible to see so many writers wrestling with concepts of the future for literary arts and industry, questioning the current status quo and presenting challenges and platforms for emerging voices. The festival itself was so inspiring, an experience only enriched by working behind the scenes. The thoughtful panels and discussions I think are what I enjoyed best, though many of the Late Night Lit events, masterclasses and just those quite moments in the office between also hit a sweet spot.
I had a great time sharing the festival with my fellow producers and EWF staff — sharing our experiences of writing, bonding over food, wine and getting the chance to enjoy the festival once it was under way. EWF is all about bringing writers together to celebrate their interests, craft, and it was so great to be a part of that; a tangible manifestation of our passion as writers and readers.
What are you doing now, and how did the Creative Producer program help you get there?
I’m now working as the Administrative Intern for Voiceworks magazine (in a desk right across from my EWF desk!). A position I don’t think I would have received if it wasn’t for the skills, experience and self-confidence EWF gave me. I now feel more capable with management, administrative and practical tasks, with communicating with people and working towards one singular creative vision. The experience of working with EWF as a Creative Producer is also applicable to future positions I may take. There are more doors open for me now and I feel as though now having walked through a few of them that I have something to offer the growing literary community, and have the skills to back this up.
Applications for our Creative Producer roles for EWF17 close 5pm Friday 16 December 2016. To apply download a job pack here.
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