The Importance of Festivals
Updated: Mar 19
Can wearing desert boots, skimpy shorts and a rainbow handkerchief change your life? What about seeing a film with a perspective you’ve never considered? How about an intimate meeting with a stranger during an art installation?
The answer is, absolutely.
Around this time last year a friend of mine returned from an adventure to Burning Man - the famous desert festival where you leave your inhibitions on the highway. As he regaled us with (rarely g-rated) stories his eyes were filled with so much joy, confetti almost shot from his pupils. Tiny pupil confetti. These experiences had triggered an emotional shift - he was more confident and comfortable in his own skin.
I call this the Festival Effect.
The Festival Effect: A phenomenon that occurs when a group of people share a cultural moment. At it’s best, this shared experience disrupts their daily routine, challenges preconceptions and invigorates creative energy. Whether it’s a concert, film, dancing or an artistic experience, the individual is left with an enriched sense of belonging or understanding.
These experiences are important because they help us to empathise with groups of people we may never normally interact with. Empathy leads to understanding which leads to helping which leads to acceptance and so on.
For example, during the recent Sydney Film Festival a documentary about Indigenous Australian Footballer Adam Goodes was screened. The Final Quarter documents an incident of racism which ultimately led to Goodes quitting the game. Ignorant comments from commentators and punters alike over-simplified a complex issue. From this one documentary I saw multiple conversations regarding the issue ignite, this time with more nuance. This is the power of the arts.
Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible – Paul Klee
Since beginning my design career over ten years ago, my clients have predominantly been festivals and cultural events. This is no coincidence. The challenge of creating a brand that makes a diverse group of people feel welcome is both humbling and rewarding. I’m not part of a marginalised group, the hardships in my life have not been insurmountable. But if I can use my skills to encapsulate an event that brings people together, then I feel as though I am part of a larger movement towards harmony.
Missy Dempsey 12 Sep 2019
Missy is a creative director, designer and illustrator who runs Fletcher Street Design based in Sydney, Australia.