Queensland Cabaret Foundation

Top 5 tips when applying for festivals


Tips for putting your best foot forward


Make sure you know what they’re looking for. Have a look at previous festival programs  and see if your show fits the bill. Every arts festival has it’s own curatorial flavour, looking at previous festival line-ups will give you an idea of whether your show suits that flavour. You might find that you need to adjust the pitch of your show to suit the bill better. You may find that your show doesn’t really match up with that particular festival so hone your search to find a better fit. Some places to start:     http://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/festivals-in-australia                             https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_festivals_in_Australia#Queensland                      http://www.folkalliance.org.au/directory/festivals-calendar/                                                                 http://www.festivalaustralia.com.au/                        



What’s in a name? LOTS! When finding a title for your show, try to distill the idea down into a short sharp and, most importantly, memorable title. Plays on words often work very well, for example: Cool Britannia  (in place of Rule Britannia) Tom Waits for No Man (taken from the saying ‘Time and tide wait for no man’). Alliteration is also catchy for instance Voices of Vice or Bendigo to Broadway. All these examples give the audience an idea of what the show is about.



Craft a great tag line and provide quotable quotes. Tag lines usually appear below the image of a show in a brochure or web page. It needs to be one short sentence that brings people in – like a call to action or an enticement to keep reading. For example “Meet nu-folk duo Warmwaters – they’re a little bit Nautical and a little bit Naughty” or “Rock meets Cabaret when international sensation Storm Large takes the stage”. Short Review quotes are important to use but what if you don’t have anything usable yet? Invite an industry peer or someone who has standing in the arts community who has seen your work, to provide a written endorsement in a short paragraph – make sure you tell them what you intend to use it for. 



So you only have 100 words to tell everyone what your show is like and why they should come and see it? It’s the old WH question time, as in – what, when, why, where?  The good thing is, you only have to answer what and why. Start with what it is and then move quickly onto the why –  give people a good reason to get off their behinds and see it – this requires you to have a serious think about who your audience is and what you would say to them to get them interested in paying to see your performance. Marketing is all about targeting the right audience and eliciting an emotional response. As a performer you should be a dab hand at this but it’s always a good idea to run it by people you know have a way with words. Remember you only have 100 or less  so make each word count. 



A picture paints a thousand words. Nothing can be truer when it comes to putting your best foot forward when applying to festivals. The right image can elicit emotion from the viewer in a very direct way and marketing people and publicists know that a show will be easier to sell tickets to if the image is really strong. Eye contact with the lens is often more effective in engaging the viewer and telling something about the story of your show in the image is crucial. On a practical level, make sure you offer both portrait and landscape configurations, as current website trends use wide landscape images while brochure tend towards portrait. Once again, it always pays to look at previous programs to get some inspiration for your submission package.

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