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Past EWF Creative Producers: What are they up to now?

Applications for our Creative Producer Internship Program are now open.

Past alumni have used the Creative Producer role as an launching pad to kick start successful careers in the arts and literary sector. All three core staff members at EWF – Artist Director Izzy Roberts-Orr, General Manager Will Dawson, and Program Coordinator Linh Nguyen – began at EWF as Creative Producer interns.

Ahead of the 2018 festival, we spoke to some past Creative Producers about their experiences in the role and what they’ve done in the meantime.

Veronica Sullivan


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What are you doing now?
I’m currently the Prize Manager of the Stella Prize, where I’ve been working since 2015. I’m also Program Manager for the Feminist Writers Festival and I co-host a podcast called Sisteria, which is about women’s experiences as the creators and consumers of arts and culture.

What were some of the highlights and/or challenges of interning at EWF?
Interning at EWF kick-started my arts management career. Prior to my internship I’d been hell-bent on a career in editing (a field I still love and value); but my experience as a Creative Producer opened my eyes to the breadth of professional options in the literary and arts industry. Being a CP helped me figure out that I ultimately want to work in a more logistical and creative capacity, including planning and managing events and initiatives.

A highlight from my time at EWF was working on the first ‘Amazing Babes’ event. It was an incredibly special night, and I love that it has become a regular fixture on the festival calendar.

What advice would you give to future EWF Creative Producers?
Plan events as comprehensively as you can ahead of time and allow for contingencies, so that when something goes wrong (as it inevitably will) you’ll have a bit of wriggle room and spare brain-space to sort it out calmly and efficiently. Also, always carry a phone charger during festival time!

Nicole McKenzie 

What are you doing now?
I’m working at Affirm Press as an Editorial and Publicity Assistant through the Australian Publishers Association Industry Internship Program. This involves fact-checking and proofreading manuscripts for publication, assisting in the planning and implementation of book publicity campaigns, general admin and more. I finish this role at the end of the year, but I’m looking forward to working at the Adelaide Fringe Festival in February.

What were some of the highlights and/or challenges of interning at EWF?
The biggest highlight was having the freedom to program two of my own events. I was given some outlines, a budget and fantastic support, and from there I was able to take things in my own direction. I programmed an ‘Early Words’ event and a live literary game show – Lost the Plot – which was a dream come true.

The biggest challenge was also the programming aspect. While it thrilled me to be able to curate events it also terrified me to have the authority to decide which artists to program. I felt extremely overwhelmed by the number of people in the industry, as there is so much incredible emerging talent in Australia.  I had to do a lot of research and take some chances but overall it was a fantastic learning curve.

What advice would you give to future EWF Creative Producers?
Be adventurous and take risks! This is an incredible opportunity to create something truly unique – use it!  Make the time to get to know your fellow Creative Producers and EWF staff; not only will they be valuable resources but I promise they’ll also be truly incredible individuals.

Joshua Allen

What are you doing now?  
Since working for EWF I’ve managed to find paid work in the arts back home in Perth. I’ve worked in marketing for organisations including Perth Festival, City of Perth, The Blue Room Theatre, FRINGE WORLD Festival, and the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts. My desire to be a producer has never wavered through, and it was after relocating to London and working for the Gate Theatre and as a Young Producer for Battersea Arts Centre that I’ve now started freelancing as a producer. EWF was my first stepping stone in – what hopefully may be – my long arts career.

What were some of the highlights and/or challenges of interning at EWF?
Most of my highlights were moments when I corresponded directly with artists and my own decisions led the direction of festival events. Assisting with the first ‘Digital Writers’ Festival’ and coordinating the ‘Queer Writing Unconference’ with Archer Magazine at The Wheeler Centre are things I’ll always remember vividly.

The main challenge was getting through the workload while studying full-time and working part-time, but having the support of the other Creative Producers pulled me through. Some of those CPs are still a part of my life.

What advice would you give to future EWF Creative Producers?
Have a clear sense of what you want to get out of your time at EWF and don’t be afraid to take ownership over your own ideas. Build connections with the artists you will work with. Being a Creative Producer is such an incredible opportunity to launch your own artistic practice or arts career, so make sure your work will be remembered.

Else Fitzgerald


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What are you doing now?  
I’m working at the City of Melbourne as a Senior Event Coordinator on the ‘Melbourne Knowledge Week’ festival program. I’m about to finish up in that role and take some time to work on my manuscript – it’s a collection of speculative fiction about climate change and emerging technologies, and I’m pretty excited to be able to work on it full-time.

What were some of the highlights and/or challenges of interning at EWF?
I can honestly say that interning at EWF kick started my career. I’d been faffing around for most of my 20s – doing great things like travel and study and working in hospitality but never really being able to see a career for myself that would bring all my passions together. I actually applied for a bunch of editorial assistant jobs before someone in an interview asked me why I wanted to be an editor, and I realised I actually didn’t, at all. Because I loved writing and storytelling, I thought working for a publisher was the logical option. But then I started volunteering at Writers Victoria and got the Creative Producer role at EWF and suddenly realised there was this great role in programming festivals that I could make a career out of. I then ended up working for EWF for almost three years, starting as an Admin Assistant, then Program Coordinator and finally Program Manager, coming out of my time there with an amazing set of arts management skills. So I think getting to know myself and what I wanted to do was a major highlight of my time at EWF, along with the incredible people I got to work with along the way, both festival staff and artists.

What advice would you give to future EWF Creative Producers?
Ask questions. If you’re interested in knowing about an aspect of festival management, the team are super open and supportive and an amazing resource to learn from. And get to know your fellow Creative Producers – they’re the future leaders of the literary arts and most certainly a bunch of legends as well.

Jes Layton

What are you doing now?
I’m working with Voiceworks as Administration Intern. I have a couple of projects/things up my sleeve that I’m really excited about. Mostly, I’m in rewrites and edits for my novel while in the midst of knocking out a second.

I’m also freelancing on the regular as well as being a festival/event/volunteer junkie. I float around a lot now in the Wheeler Centre and the Melbourne YA (Young Adult) scene, both communities I’ve become very comfortable with due to the confidence my time at EWF gave me.

What were some of the highlights and/or challenges of interning at EWF?
Working with some talented and amazing people, and with inspiring and wonderful artists, on brilliant fantastic things. The amount of behind-the-scenes prep and planning – from budgeting, event conception, marketing, production and artist liaison – was difficult, but difficult in a rewarding, ‘leveling up’ kind of way.

Working outside of my comfort zone was probably the most challenging, but again, totally worth the moments of doubt, stress and impostor syndrome. Working with EWF was not an easy gig, but it was a valuable one, allowing me to stretch both my creative and professional muscles.

What advice would you give to future EWF Creative Producers?
My best advice to future EWF CP’s is to take things (especially rising problems, of which there will be at least a handful) in your stride. Challenge yourself by doing the things that might make you feel (creatively) uncomfortable or seem out of your depth. You rock! You can do it! Best of all, you have an awesome, supportive team behind you.

Apply to be a Creative Producer for the 2018 Emerging Writers’ Festival here.

Read some of our previous blog posts: the culture of unpaid internships in the arts and when is it okay to be an intern?

Applications close 5pm AEDT Monday 8 January, 2018. The Emerging Writers’ Festival 2018 will run from June 19 – 29.