Festival X: The Student Factor
Keighley Bradford and Leanne Elliott look at how student engagement is the driving force behind bringing us Festival X 2020
Of course, the fact Festival X is the annual creative industries graduate showcase implies there wouldn’t be a festival without work produced by third-year UON students. Truth be told, the event itself has become a lot more driven by student engagement since it’s conception in 2018. If you don’t believe us, just take a look at the program acknowledgements listing and naming the students involved in this year’s Festival X showcase.
Be The Light – PR Campaign, Promotional Video
Claudia Cossettini (B.Comms, Media Production & Public Relations), Bec Newham (B.Comms/B.Laws), Gemima Pearson-Maytom (B.Comms, Media Production & Public Relations), and Nathaniel Duggan (B.Comms/B.Laws) are a group of students enrolled in CMNS3550: Public Relations Project.
Claudia, Bec, Gemima, and Nathaniel are the brains behind the PR Project Be The Light, which is a short three-part film advertisement series created in response to their PR Project assessment. For this team, their hopes for this project was to “inspire viewers to virtually attend and engage with Festival X 2020 and subsequently to support the creative talent occurring amongst University of Newcastle (UON) students,” Claudia says. It was curated as an awareness campaign for the broader creative industries and UON community, hoping to facilitate engagement and bring attention to the value of these emerging artist (and graduating students) major projects.
Additionally, Claudia notes that “The project strives to address the notion that although COVID-19 has infiltrated and decimated an array of platforms that creative individuals both operate and thrive within, students from UON are adapting to their newfound creative environments, to pursue the development of creative content and projects.” This concept fits in nicely with theme of Festival X 2020 – #myisolation. The project metaphorically addresses the issues described by focusing on the “engagement and presence of others within and exposed to the creative community that enables these creative students to thrive within the current creative landscape,” Claudia says.
For Claudia and her team, the opportunity PR Projects gave them was an enriched capacity to develop and execute PR campaigns, while additionally gaining insights into coordination of creative industries talent, as well as directing and managing such projects.
Claudia’s advice to future Festival X students: “Support others where you can! In times like these, it’s the support of others that truly makes one’s work shine.”
What’s NeXt? – PR Campaign, Live Event
Jesse’s solo project, What’s NeXt?, came about as part of his core course for PR Projects. “It was intended to be conceptual and solely created for assessment purposes,” says Jesse. Though, after encouragement from his tutor and creative industries members, Jesse decided to take the lead on the event for this year’s Festival X.
What’s NeXt? is an interactive, student focused project providing students with a creative experience which is both engaging and informative. According to Jesse, “What’s NeXt? is going to be a live event in what is otherwise a virtual festival.” The discussion panel will feature a range of local creative professionals and will look at “what to expect when working in the creative industries and more specifically, how to transition from studying into such a fast-paced workforce,” says Jesse.
“The goal of What’s NeXt? is to link students with creative professionals and discuss the process in making the transition. They will share their story and experience and use it to help the graduating students shift into the professional world.”
For Jesse, participating in Festival X has been a stressful but rewarding experience. “It is something I believe will provide a lot of value to students in similar positions to myself,” says Jesse. “My involvement was simply to create an event that I felt met the needs of the students in giving them access to the information about what is beyond their degree. Information I believed there was a lack of.”
Jesse’s advice to future Festival X students: “You need to have a passion for what you are doing and what you hope to achieve. Without passion there is no driving force. Find your passion and use Festival X to help showcase it and build your portfolio for what is after graduation.”
Jesse’s event is happening at 5:30pm tonight (Thursday 12th November) at NUspace. UON students are invited to attend – however, registration is essential.
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❌ Get to know your Panellists! ❌ Dr. Ari Chand is a highly decorated Designer/Illustrator and practice-based researcher. In 2019, Ari was a finalist in the Sir William Dobell Foundation and National Art School’s Biannual 2019 Dobell Drawing Prize. He has also explored creative expression in the form of music, being a singer/songwriter, and performing music for the past 10 years. In addition, Ari is the co-director and music producer for ThreeBirds Records, an independent label that looks to support local bands. Clare works as a Communication Consultant at Purser Communications and it is her driving ambition that has contributed to her early success. She describes the Creative Industries as 'mysterious and seductive' and has a clear love for her career within it. Isaac Whitten is part owner of Folium Cafe, and Company Director of Big Pigeon Publicity. He has big ambitions of creating a full-service creative agency and is definitely on the right track to achieve this goal. Being captivated by human expression, art, music, and film, Isaac has a very unique passion for the Creative Industries. Claiming not to be 'overly talented' in creative areas, he found himself helping these people bring their creations into the eyes and ears of others. Come down tomorrow night at 5:30pm (12/11/20) to room X803 at NuSpace Campus to discuss your future in the Creative Industries with these industry professionals. This event is open to UoN students only. This event was created by Jesse as part of his final PR Project in CMNS3550. Great work, Jesse!
Snackathon, by Festival X – PR Campaign, Instagram
Stephanie is voluntarily proceeding with her individual project – Snackathon, by Festival X. Initially, this project was only meant to be a draft campaign focusing on content curation – however, with permission from her lecturer, Stephanie was able to go live with the PR campaign and gain some implementation experience for her resume.
The idea behind of Snackathon, by Festival X was to bring UON students together through a connection we share – food. “As uni students, we all study and one element of what connects us through our studies is food,” Stephanie commented. “Whether we’re binging to cram for a test, or casually snacking to finish an assessment, there is this point of commonality of eating, and I chose to focus on that to promote Festival X.” Tapping into the Festival X theme of #myisolation, this project collaborates with local eateries to deliver its giveaways, as well as shine a light on how small businesses were impacted by COVID-19.
On the experience, Stephanie notes that, “Completing the project has given me a unique perspective on how difficult it is to promote an online event during COVID-19. The festival isn’t usually online and thus you need to promote it differently to a regular festival, which I found challenging but a good experience.”
Stephanie’s advice to future Festival X students: “To participate as it’s a valuable experience that you may never get after graduating. It’s fun to talk with your peers about what project they are doing and bounce ideas around. It’s a whole process that I think is really worthwhile for any student completing a creative work.”
You can follow Snackathon, by Festival X on Instagram at @snak_a_thon.
Student Life – Radio Hour, Student Project
Keely Johnson (B.Comms, majoring in News and Digital Media).
This year Festival X will be almost totally online and will have its own student-run radio channel. Having been hesitant during the first two years of study, after some encouragement from one of her lecturers, Keely felt ready to take on this opportunity. “I thought the gig was a great opportunity to use the skills I have learnt within my degree and use them to do something I love – radio presenting,” says Keely.
“I am producing and hosting a one-hour radio program for Festival X and was given complete creative control over the project. As producer, I designed my program to appeal to university students, calling it “Student Life”.
Hosted directly from NUspace, the radio program will engage with students about their university experience and final projects; it will also have music and talk-back topics. Keely will also be presenting and keeping listeners up to date on what’s happening during Festival X.
“It’s not often a university student gets the opportunity to produce and host their very own radio show on a legitimate station for anyone to listen to. That in itself will be a great experience, which I will be able to tell future employers about,” says Keely.
Audio works created by other students will also be showcased as part of the Student Life radio show. “I think after putting in so much work over the semester, hearing your creation and being able to say it was put to air would be an amazing feeling,” says Keely.
Keely’s advice to future Festival X students: “Go for it! I was hesitant to get involved in my first two years of Uni because I wasn’t sure I had the right skills or there would be a position that I would be that interested in.”
“But it turns out there [are] actually some amazing roles the organisers want you to fill. It has been a super rewarding experience,” says Keely.
Listen to Keely’s radio show on Saturday 14th November at 5pm via festival-x.com.
There are two things about Festival X 2020 that stand out. First is the level of support students are giving to each other. It has such a positive vibe, with the focus on student engagement and sharing the love by showcasing other students’ works. Second is the encouragement teachers have given to students. Sometimes just a little encouragement is all students need to help them take that first big step towards the world outside of Uni.
So make sure you share the love this week and check out Festival X 2020.
Feature Image: Leanne Elliott, Yak Media Writer