Behind the Scenes: Planning the 2011 First Person Arts Festival
First Person Arts is celebrating 10 great years of stories! How? For our 10th year anniversary we are expanding this year's First Person Festival of Memoir and Documentary Art to an unprecedented eleven days. In preparation for the Festival, Liz Green, FPA's Programming Coordinator, decided to give us a behind the scenes look at what's in store for the 2011 First Person Festival and what makes this year's Festival so special.
What is First Person Arts doing to make the 2011 Festival even better than last years?
It's been ten years, we have a great network of artists, and we are celebrating this by going big! More venues, more performances, more artists, more variety. Our StorySlam audiences at L'ETAGE and World Cafe Live have grown a lot this year, so we have brought in even more shows that we think they'll like (Stripped Stories, Adam Wade from NH, Will You Accept this Friend Request?). We want the Festival to be somewhere that people hang out and meet cool people. We have created spaces for people to talk about what they're seeing – some are more structured (talk backs and panels) and some are informal (we are setting up a cafe in the Christ Church lobby, and holding happy hours at the Khyber Upstairs everyday).
This is the biggest festival FPA has ever had. What does that mean ex
actly? More days, more programs, etc?.
We have expanded the festival to eleven days this year, in honor of our 10th Anniversary. There will be over thirty performances, workshops, and special events in venues across Old City. It means we get to feature the work of a larger range of artists – from award winning performers and writers… to emerging artists working on something brand new… to folks who won over the judges at a Slam sometime this year, and will find themselves onstage in front of hundreds of people at the Grand Slam. The bigger our Festival is, the more we can fulfill our mission – to give every person's story an opportunity to be heard.
You’re pretty new at First Person Arts. What was it like coming into a new job and having to spearhead a huge project like a eleven-day festival?
It's a great way to start! This is a big undertaking for an organization our size, and we (Board, staff, FPA artists) are grateful that we're in Philly, where people actively engage in what goes on in their city. We are working with more partners than ever before – restaurants, organizations, universities, churches – to bring this Festival together. Large scale undertakings in which everyone has a piece of the ownership is so Philadelphia, and we just couldn't do it otherwise.
Stay tuned to the First Person Arts blog for more from our interview with Liz Green. Check out our First Person Festival page for updates on this year's Festival programs.
-Laura Reeve & Whitni Rouse