|Mike Shuttleworth is the program director for the 2012 Melbourne Writers Festival. As the event gets closer, he spoke to The Wheeler Centre blog.|
This is your first year as program manager with the Melbourne Writer's Festival. What's been the best thing about the job so far?
Working with a fantastic and dedicated team has been amazing. We have programming committees with a lot of expertise and that helps, too. Steve Grimwade's understanding of how to put a festival together is something to marvel at.
What's been your biggest challenge?
Aligning guests to panels so that we can show writers to their best is obviously what it's all about. Making use of visiting writers' time, so that they are busy - but not beaten like a rented mule - is always a challenge, so there is a lot of negotiation that goes on well before we launch.
Getting my head around a program with 400 writers, 350 sessions and some big international programs has been pretty challenging. It has been full-on since February, when we put the schools program to bed, and will remain that way until late on Sunday 2 September when Robert Dessaix gives the closing night address. He really is an extraordinary and singular voice in Australian writing.