Festival Director Kate Craddock reflects on her recent trip to Fusebox Festival.
Last week I was in Austin, Texas attending the almighty Fusebox Festival as part of a group of British Council supported delegates from across the UK. I was there with other Festival Directors from these amazing UK festivals: TRANSFORM in Leeds; FIERCE in Birmingham; BLOCK UNIVERSE in London; as well as Take Me Somewhere and BuzzCut, both based in Glasgow.
The trip was focused on us finding out more about how the economic model for Fusebox works - it is a completely free festival to attend - and I was particularly impressed with the opening event: Fusebox Live, a fundraising dinner like I have never witnessed before. I found myself getting caught up in the bidding frenzy!
We spent lots of our time making connections with other artists and festivals from across North America, and exploring how we might start to develop new programming possibilities. As a group of delegates from across the UK, we also really relished the opportunity this experience gave us to spend time together.... swimming in the local springs, drinking margaritas... and talking about how we can also potentially work together collaboratively in the future, which was all really exciting! So watch this space...
There were so many great shows and artists at Fusebox, but my own personal highlights were In Many Hands by Kate McIntosh, an extraordinary performance in which we were literally invited to handle a vast range of different objects, and to hold hands with the strangers who sat either side. It was an incredibly intimate and deeply moving experience. Another highlight was being in the front row for New York's finest Erin Markey performing Boner Killer . One week on from watching this show, and I still have those songs running through my mind! I was also really delighted to have the opportunity to see All the sex I've ever had by Mammalian Diving Reflex. The show brought together a group of 'seniors' who shared their own life stories in a setting that triggered both tears of joy and sadness. This was definitely a very special experience that will stay with me for quite some time.
More than anything, my time at Fusebox has really energised me for GIFT 2018, and reminded me of how brilliant festivals are for bringing people together and for making new connections. I met so many great artists and programmers and I really hope to be able to bring many of them to Gateshead for GIFT one day!