New board set to guide the Feast Festival into the future
With a rejuvenated board and thriving youth component, the Feast Festival is set to head into a bold, bright future. Brodie McGee reports.
Feast, Adelaide’s queer cultural festival, turns 17 this year and the preparations and planning are well under way. Spearheaded by a new general manager, Cassandra Liebeknecht, the events coming out of the Feast office this year are set to be bigger and bolder than ever, and based on the lead-up fundraising events we’ve seen so far, are guaranteed to draw a large audience.
To aid in the governance of this range of new ideas the Feast board also recently welcomed in June their new chairperson, Joshua Rayner. Rayner himself is an avid support of arts, and the building and strengthening of local communities. His wealth of community and business acumen will help him develop the Feast board of management’s new direction for the annual celebration of queer artists in South Australia.
While acknowledging the rich and diverse history of the organisation, Rayner tells blaze he will be paying respect to the struggles of the community it aims to serve. This new chairperson is set to steer the organisation into a new era of inclusive and relevant celebration.
Rayner says, “By understanding our history, by understanding our value, by understanding our audience, we have a new strategic plan to guarantee our continued excellence in delivering real and tangible benefits to the wider South Australian populace in celebrating diversity and acceptance.”
His goal is to grow the strengths of the organisation’s capacity through a regenerated board of management with exceptional skill and commitment, and by investing in its most important asset: its people. “Feast is achieving this by lifting the support to its large volunteer base, securing the excellence of its senior management staff, and creating a new contract of promise to its communities: a contract of promise that Feast will remain inclusive, respectful and diverse while delivering this in a more professional and innovative way,” Rayner says.
In explaining why Feast as an arts organisation with such a diverse agenda was still relevant, Rayner is emphatic. “Artistic expression is everywhere,” he says. “It is in every action we take, every communication we make, every interface we conduct. It is the ability to identify, acknowledge, call out and explore these expressions that makes an artist. Feast is the embodiment of the platform to create opportunity and acceptance to the LGBTI community artists –all with the promise of exploration to excellence.”
When talking about a festival like Feast, it’s paramount to take into consideration the youth sector of our community, to ensure that they remain engaged, and are empowered to become the leaders of these events in the near future. This is one of the biggest challenges that Feast has ahead of it.
Edwin Kemp Attrill, a member of the Feast Youth Committee, tells blaze Feast is as current to the younger generation as it has ever been.
“Adelaide needs Feast. We need to celebrate our identity. We need to come together as a community. I think it's really important to be a part of this, to continue to build the festival,” Attrill says.
Attrill is one of many young queer people within Adelaide who support a fortnightly drop in. These drop ins are also a kind of brains fund, a group of like-minded and passionate youths invested in the Feast Festival. This Queer Youth Drop-in, along with the Feast Youth Committee, will drive a group of new events for young people.
“Some of the events we've got this year are a young writers’ event, a workshop on sex toys, a gender f*ck ball and an amazing artist called Horse,” Attrill says. “We're going to be based at the West Bar, which will be an awesome space for young people to hang out and meet other young people during the festival.”
Rayner also places a lot of emphasis on the Feast Youth Committee, detailing the strength such a passionate group of people can bring to the festival. “The audience, reach and community is extremely diverse,” Rayner says.
“The board of management are keen to ensure broad representative inclusion on matters that deal with the needs and aspirations of that diverse audience and has the youth committee there to provide specific advice on youth issues. Their contributions are considered enormously beneficial to the board as it seeks to execute its new contract of promise.”
As governments pull their purse strings tighter, the Feast Festival will undoubtedly be looking at the community for greater and broader support than ever before. But with such committed people working tirelessly to ensure a more inclusive festival with innovative ideas and well respected artists, our challenge of choosing which shows to go and see once Feast begins may yet prove to be the hardest.
[Top image] Cassandra Liebeknecht and Joshua Rayner