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Festivals come in all shapes and sizes, from small town festivals to large and expensive, extravagant events. The specific job description of a festival director may vary with the type of festival that is involved, however, the general duties, responsibilities and obligations of a festival director require someone who is self motivated, creative and well-organized.
The primary responsibility of a festival director is to ensure that the festival is successful and well attended. The worst case scenario is low attendance and mediocre performances. A successful festival is contingent on a large number of variables, and the responsibility of the director is to control all the different variables as much as possible. The festival director cannot control the weather, but planning a festival should include things such as festival insurance, alternative indoor sites and protective outdoor coverings for the sound gear and equipment.
The festival director's primary duty is to put an interesting and appealing festival program together. This may involve collaborating with a committee or other people connected with the festival. Scouting and recruiting good talent is the first priority. The ability to recruit talent is obviously dependent upon the festival budget. In addition to the talent, another crucial factor is the theme or underlying ideas of the festival. The director needs to be able to bring creative and new ideas to the job, rather than relying on old and worn out ideas.
Festivals cost money. This makes fundraising an essential part of the job. In addition to developing creative ideas for the festival itself, the festival director must be equally creative in organizing fundraising events for the festival. This entails overseeing all financial details, developing economic and budgetary strategies, scheduling specific fundraising events, applying for grants and being available for one-on-one contact with potential contributors.
Since the festival director is responsible for scouting and finding the talent and performers for the festival, the director needs to be knowledgeable and have expertise in the field. For example, if the festival is a bluegrass festival, the director should have a firm grasp and knowledge of bluegrass. On the other hand, a jazz festival requires a director who is well grounded in jazz. A director who is putting together a program for a Tennessee Williams festival should be more than familiar with the works of Tennessee Williams.
Festival directors must possess good organizational skills. Part of a festival director's job includes multi-tasking, troubleshooting unexpected problems, achieving conflict resolution, delegating responsibilities and inspiring the performers to give their best.
Robert Russell began writing online professionally in 2010. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and is currently working on a book project exploring the relationship between art, entertainment and culture. He is the guitar player for the nationally touring cajun/zydeco band Creole Stomp. Russell travels with his laptop and writes many of his articles on the road between gigs.