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Producer profile – Adelaide Rief

March 15, 2015

Here’s your chance to get to know one of the brains behind YAh a bit better – meet Producer, Adelaide Rief.

What kind of art do you make (if any)?

I think in a way, facilitation and collaboration is my artistic practice. I was talking to one of our festival artists the other day, about a project involving what is at its heart a walking tour of the Parliamentary Triangle. It is definitely more exciting than that description makes it sound but the important thing is, she kept referring to the project as the artwork. This reminded me that a lot of what I do, that I might call radio production, or facilitation is a kind of art, or an artistic process – despite what words I used to describe it. So while I don’t call myself an artist – I do present and produce radio shows, facilitate creative ventures and sometimes write (but only when a deadline looms).

What draws you to promoting and facilitating the work of others, through something like YAH?

Way back at university my favourite lecturer (who dressed exclusively in black skivvies) said to me in tones perhaps too grandiose for the setting (out the back of the studios near the dumpsters), ‘you have a very serviceable critical faculty Adelaide, use it’. So while I don’t have an artform that I work in exclusively or am particularly skilled in, over the years I have found myself seeking out opportunities to work with people doing creative things.

This might be partially so I can hide behind other people’s incredible talent without having to actually do the hard work of perfecting a skill myself. But it’s also because I really enjoy the process of working on an idea, picking up bits and pieces from each person’s skills and experience, exploring what they find interesting or challenging and eventually reaching a place where it all comes together into something you can put in front of an audience or put the audience into depending on what you’re doing!

How did you first come into contact with the festival?


I actually lived in Canberra for two years before I even knew YAH existed. Then in 2013, after chatting to a friend who had worked for the festival the year before I went along to a meeting with the festival directors David Finnigan and Yolande Norris and producer Vanessa Wright, thinking I was going to be asked to pitch an event. Instead they offered me a job. My life took a turn for the extreme ultimate and never-go-backable better.


What has been your best YAH moment so far?


Without a doubt the Hads and Ads Radio Punch-a-thon – a haphazard, raucous music radio show I did with festival co-director Adam Hadley in 2013. The show was meant to be a series of interviews with artist but ended up being a riot of Hadley ranting about otters and me playing Taylor Swift’s 22 over and over because I was panicking and it was the first thing that came into my head.


No, seriously. The best moment of YAH so far has actually been all of the moments where I’ve felt like the people I work with on the festival are my family, even at 1am when we’re exhausted from a night of back to back theatre shows and gigs or when we sit, crammed into our tiny festival office that smells like mould dried apricots on 35 degree days.

And the worst?


This sounds like I’m a sucker for punishment, but the last night of the festival when you know it’s all over for another year (and all that you’ve got to look forward to next is the joy of grant acquittals). There have definitely always been times when I feel like I’ve let someone down too, an artist or a fellow producer. But that’s probably the best thing about this festival, is that we let ourselves experiment (and sometimes fail), both in terms of the art we present and the way we present it. Fail, fail again, fail better, Samuel Beckett said.


What would be your ultimate creative dream (a project, an experience, etc)?


Have you seen Grand Designs? So…..


No, jokes.


Ummm, probably working on a large scale, long term, well funded, independent community cultural development project that creates or supports the achievement of real life outcomes of the people involved. My inspiration is Lilla Watson an incredible Aboriginal activist who said: if you have come here to help me, you are wasting our time.

But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.


What’s the last book you read? Did you love it or hate it?


Last book, was the Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. A little bit Murakami, a little bit Dianna Wynne Jones – he’s a favourite author of mine. But I’ll be honest, this felt a little like paint by numbers for him. I also just bought a Kobo (an e-reader) and I’m geekishly excited about exploring this new way of reading


What’s your favourite endangered animal species?


Saccolaimus saccolaimus nudicluniatus (bare-rumped sheathtail bat)


Poor bare rumped bat. Nobody even cares how cold your rump is.


If people only get one thing out of YAH, what do you hope it is?


The same feeling I get, right there in the moment where something hits you in the guts. A tingling feeling all the way up your spine, and a grin on your face.