New face at festival helm

August 30, 2017

Shepparton Festival's incoming creative director Steve Mayhew (front) with outgoing festival director Ros Abercrombie and current festival chair Fiona Smolenaars.

Shepparton Festival’s new creative director Steve Mayhew is excited to work with the community after officially taking up the position this week.

‘‘I’m excited to have fun and play with the community and art that’s being produced locally as well as nationally,’’ he said.

Outgoing festival director Ros Abercrombie, who has spent the past three years in the role, said she was rapt when the board told her Mr Mayhew would take up the position.

‘‘It’s great the festival can once again bring an outside person who can work with the community,’’ she said.

‘‘It couldn’t be going into better hands.’’

Ms Abercrombie said although she had not met Mr Mayhew previously, she was familiar with his work after he spent the past 25 years producing, curating and programming the arts.

Interestingly, the transition could be seen as a role-swap as Ms Abercrombie forges into her future position as creative producer of Country Arts SA — where Mr Mayhew has just finished up.

Ms Abercrombie said it showed that a specific skill set was required when it came to running regional arts events.

‘‘There’s a different way of working regionally,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s a different playing space and it’s exciting that there’s someone coming into the role who can work locally.’’

Although Ms Abercrombie said she had spent the past few months getting used to the idea of saying goodbye to Shepparton, the festival was in an exciting stage of growth.

She said everyone involved had worked hard to rebrand and reset the festival’s creative direction, having also secured funding from Regional Arts Victoria.

‘‘It’s also a testament to everyone who came before me. We feel we’re in a really exciting space with local arts as well.’’

Mr Mayhew said it would be business as usual looking to next year’s Shepparton Festival with the theme ‘By Design’ after the annual general meeting was held this week.

‘‘There will be things that look different, but keep talking to us. We’re always here,’’ he said.

Expressions of interest for the Shepparton Festival close on Monday, September 4, and can be sent to admin@sheppartonfestival.org.au

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