Applications to perform at the 2019 festival closed on 31st May 2018 with approximately 460 applications to perform or participate.

Over the next three months with the support of Rachel Meyers and Michael Bentley, the lineup was confirmed within both budget and manageable numbers.

As you’re all aware, Beryl has been an amazing support in setting up the application forms, contracts, assisting with insurances and reminders for stage plans and accommodation requirements, to name just a few. I’ve loved working with her and will miss her eagle eye and cheerful and sometimes very tongue-in-cheek communication.

Funding was successfully obtained from APRA AMCOS for Aine Tyrrell’s performances and her “Write to Rise” masterclass for female songwriters, but I was unsuccessful in the funding application from the Aboriginal grant from Arts Tasmania for the Welcome Event (we were able to offer funds for this to the participants when an interstate Indigenous performer had to withdraw). I sought feedback for the unsuccessful application, so feel I have more information going forward on this.

There were a couple of other late withdrawals but we still had a very full and vibrant programme, and over the weekend of 2019 the festival saw 125 acts booked including musicians, children’s acts, street performers, teachers and dance callers.

Thanks as always, to Michael Thomsen for assisting with making my newsletter text come to life with images and appropriate headings and also making the website live up to the excellent reputation of the festival!

Getting the programme edited and print-ready is always a time-consuming task; and thanks go to all the committee members who proof-read, edited and then stickered the misprint just prior to the festival! Again with improved strategies we should be able to streamline the process somewhat going forward.

The masterclasses all had good numbers (though many only booked in on the day-slightly increasing my stress!) and the feedback was exceptional.

The Welcome event jointly coordinated with SETAC and Dewayne Everett-Smith was the most comprehensive to date and received much positive feedback, as did the panel moderated by Dewayne on the Sunday.

The final performer lineup included nine International acts, 44 from mainland Australia and 63 Tasmania acts.

Inspired by my experiences at Canadian festivals, I programmed several “round robin” style concerts with several acts sharing a stage for longer concerts. These proved to be very popular and (sometimes unexpectedly) enjoyed by performers. In particular the Canada Showcase created a very full auditorium - our largest venue!

The themed concerts were also very well attended, and, at least as it appears in the photos, the children’s shows and activities were also.

A wonderful application was received from two Victorian women to conduct an Auslan choir and the deaf interpreter also signed during the Welcome event in the Park. The choir performance on the Sunday afternoon was incredibly beautiful and I plan to invite them back if funds permit.

As well as performers in Loongana Park, there was a showcase following a week-long young person’s songwriting workshop. The feedback regarding these young songwriters was excellent. The Park stage also showcased two rounds of our youth competition, which were judged by a great team and the winners presented on Sunday afternoon at the FAA Youth Showcase in the Carmel Hall. Two artists nominated by the festival have been accepted to the finals of the Folk Alliance Australia (FAA) Youth Showcase at the National Folk Festival over Easter (as there were only six finalists chosen, we are punching above our weight!)

The song and tune competition attracted 47 entries and the two great judges anonymously selected four songs and one tune to be performed at the finals on Sunday afternoon. The win was a tie between Marian Seeney’s beautiful song “Thicker than Blood” and Michael Hawke’s very poignant “The Big Dry” (Mariam’s performance was videoed by a festival-goer and is on the CFF Facebook page.)

There were 29 workshops conducted over the weekend in all manner of instrumental, vocal and even stage technique. Most were very well attended, and thanks to the super organised team at St James’ College we have numbers of all attendees so will be able to review successfully for the future.

Likewise the data from supper room attendees is very useful for future programming and as we endeavor to get better data collection from other venues, hopefully we will have absolutely everyone performing to good houses.

Roaming through the wonderful new marketplace and Tinpan Alley, were members of the ever-wonderful Sands Family Circus, the Theater of the Roaming Trees on their stilts and with their fortune-telling “Spinarium” “Tina’s Tiny Theatre” and of course, the ubiquitous and always colourful Morriss Dancers!

The Cursive Corner, where punters could write feedback or notes to their favourite performers, had a slow start, but once people got he idea, proved to be very popular and we’ve collected some real gems!

The Poets breakfast saw the last performance by the wonderful Phil Rush who after 22 consecutive festivals has sadly developed dementia. While he was a little confused in conversation, he remembered every word of his poem!

Bob Brown’s Earth Celebration as we expected had no trouble filling the auditorium to capacity and we sincerely hope that he’ll return for 2020!

The Cabaret and Directors’ concerts also played to capacity and thanks go to Zeb Direen for stepping in magnificently at the last minute to MC the cabaret.

With performer applications opening again next Monday, we are already getting enquiries from performers, artist agents and others which is testament to the standing that the various festival committees have brought the Cygnet Folk Festival to coming up to 2020.

From my perspective, I’m thrilled to be working for such a well-regarded organisation both by others in the industry and the artists who apply year after year. More than that though, I feel honoured and supported by the marvelous and hard-working committee that we currently enjoy and also to the stellar human that is Bridget, our coordinator.

Thanks for your trust in me ….and here’s to 2020!! I can’t wait to see what’s in the mix

Erin Collins

Artistic Director
Cygnet Folk Festival

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