Woodend Winter Arts Festival – Sheila Drummond
Sheila Drummond has worked in the publishing industry for over twenty five years as publisher, printer and now literary agent. She has been on the committee of the Woodend Winter Arts Festival since its inception 8 years ago and, judging by her answers to Vulture’s probing questions in the third of our pre-festival interviews, has lost none of her enthusiasm for it.
How does a great idea evolve into a festival?
Through passion for the idea. Plus dedication and commitment to making it happen.
For how many of the eight years of the Woodend Winter Arts Festival have you played a part in the literary component?
In all of them.
On the music side our artistic director looks at anniversaries and other significant events surrounding composers. Sometimes there is an overall theme. On the literary side we look at topical issues and also consider which authors are popular, or who have written interesting books.
What are the top three or four ingredients to a successful festival?
A range of interesting performers and performances, providing a varied and balanced program that will appeal to a broad audience.
How long does it take to organise the WWAF every year?
Some performers need to be booked up to two years ahead. So it is an on-going process.
How do you go about selecting the artists and programme of literary events?
If there is an overall theme for the festival we look at topics and authors that fit loosely into that theme. Not only do the books have to be relevant or entertaining but the authors also need to be able to perform and captivate and entertain the audience.
How much do you rely on volunteers?
A great deal. Especially during the festival, for front of house and certain logistics.
What part does the local community play – businesses, schools etc?
An enormous part. It is a celebration for and about the Woodend community. There is a huge influx of visitors to the town over the long weekend and we encourage businesses to cater for their needs. Also to advertise in our programme. Some programming goes into schools and we also encourage children to attend festival events. This gives them the opportunity to discover different art forms at the highest professional level.