Profile : Izzy Roberts-Orr, festival director extraordinaire

Izzy Roberts-Orr is kind of awe-inspiring. She is a writer, theatre maker, podcaster and also the Artistic Director and Co-CEO of the Emerging Writers’ Festival (EWF)

EWF also run the Digital Writers’ Festival which is on RIGHT NOW and accessible to anyone, anywhere with an internet connection.

We chatted to Izzy about the festival, her creative practices and why digital arts events are important.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m the Artistic Director and Co-CEO of the Emerging Writers’ Festival, and we also run the Digital Writers’ Festival, which is on now! I’m a podcast producer, poet, playwright and broadcaster as well.

When did you first get involved in producing arts events?

It’s hard to place a beginning, and a lot of my early involvement was through making independent theatre. A definitive moment for me was becoming the Co-Director of Amnesty International Victoria’s ARTillery Festival back in 2011. It was a lot of fun, and I’m still a big believer in art as activism!

Tell us a bit about the Digital Writers’ Festival and how it came into fruition.

The Digital Writers’ Festival grew out of the Emerging Writers’ Festival’s digital stream of programming, and became its own festival in 2014. We’re a national organisation based in Melbourne, and DWF provides an opportunity to connect with writers from across Australia and the world. It’s accessible to anyone, anywhere with an internet connection.

Why is it important to have a digital event like this?

The beauty of technology is that there is space for formal experimentation and creativity that is formerly unprecedented – and that experimentation and creativity can extend also to the ways in which we talk to each other, and establish and communicate with our contemporaries.

Access to professional development, community and connection should be for everyone, wherever you are, and the Digital Writers’ Festival is here to help facilitate that.

How do you think writers festivals and events contribute to the writing community in Australia?

Writing can be an isolating form to work in, by its nature. Having people around you who are doing the same thing that can celebrate, commiserate and provide you with feedback and support is absolutely invaluable.

Being surrounded by other writers is one of the strongest possible ways I’ve found to ensure that you keep working and keep innovating, and festivals are a great way to access that.

What else do you work on/are you passionate about? 

Outside of running the two festivals, I make poetry, podcasts, theatre and work that experiments across disciplines. I’m really passionate about making space for new voices, and about making sure that the din of creative and critical conversation is loud, proud and varied in perspective and form.

Alongside dreamboat//boss humans Beth Atkinson-Quinton and Areej Nur, I’m currently working on a project called Broadwave – a curated network of podcasts with community broadcast principles. I cannot wait to show that project to the world.

How can people find out more?

Head to the Digital Writers’ Festival website, or why not come along to one of our ~IRL~ events if you’re in Perth, Melbourne / Sydney, Brisbane or Sydney?

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