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Festival City Stories 15 Sep 2022
In peak festival season, Amy Ide’s friends and family know the only way to snag a moment with her is by booking an appointment in a complex, colour-coded spreadsheet.
That’s how the incurable arts enthusiast manages her high-volume schedule of shows and festival volunteering commitments. In 2021, while working full time and volunteering, she attended “just over 40 shows.” Incredibly, that’s less than half the number she managed in 2020.
“I was working part-time and I’d reduced my hours down to three days a week so that I could fit my volunteering in and see shows,” she recalls. “I was lucky enough to win a double pass to 60 shows for the Fringe. Along with Adelaide Festival shows, I saw 82 shows, which was pretty intense, and volunteered at Adelaide Festival, the Fringe and for Holden Street Theatres. It was quite hectic!”
Ide, whose enthusiasm for the arts stems from attending events as a child with her mum and sister (including an appearance as a clown in the Fringe Parade while at primary school), also regularly volunteers for the Adelaide Film Festival, WOMADelaide and Writer’s Week.
An environmental scientist by trade, Ide initially became a volunteer because she was curious about working in the arts. And though she decided against pursuing it as a career, she enjoyed being surrounded by like-minded people so much that she continued to volunteer.
“It’s been really wonderful to meet other people that are also interested in the arts,” she says. “We get new volunteers every year but we also have others that have been around for many years, and you get to know them… it’s [about] sharing the experience with other people.”
Ide’s volunteering roles aren’t always glamorous; on any given day she might be tasked with managing crowd control, helping punters navigate festival programs and bulk printing tickets. But she is unperturbed by the specifics of the job. Her focus remains on the bigger picture of what festivals do for her city.
“I really enjoy supporting the independent artists,” she says. “I think that’s a really important legacy of the festivals; it’s not just about the here and now. It’s about supporting people in their careers or [in the] development of their creative experiences… Festivals provide quite a safe space for putting new thinking or non-mainstream ideas out there, and that’s a really good thing.”
As a volunteer, Ide plays an essential role in the festival landscape; “We’re always told we’re the ‘friendly faces of the festival’,” she says. And though she sees her contribution as ordinary, for the people and organisations she is helping, Ide is doing something potentially transformative. Whether chatting with audience members after they’ve watched a particularly affecting show or lending an ear to artists struggling with ticket sales, she is speaking directly to the ultimate purpose of festivals; creating a sense of connection.
This article is part of the Festival City Stories series, a collection of reflections about Adelaide made by the people who make this a festival place. The project was funded through the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Arts South Australia, Arts Recovery Fund, and delivered in partnership with the State Library of South Australia.
Written by: Farrin Foster
Photography by: Thomas McCammon