Granite Noir Q&A with Lesley Anne Rose, Head of Artistic Development at Aberdeen Performing Arts
With only a week to go before the start of Granite Noir, I am delighted to welcome Lesley Anne Rose to my blog to talk about this awesome festival in Aberdeen. Check out the programme, there’s still time to get there…
How long has the festival been going and what was the inspiration behind setting it up?
Granite Noir is about to enter into its second year. Aberdeen Performing Arts produces the festival in partnership with Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives, Aberdeen City Libraries and the Belmont Filmhouse. It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to work in this way with other cultural partners across Aberdeen, to increase impact, share ideas and forge strong working relationships. Granite Noir aims to root itself in the North-east and working in this way across the city is the first crucial step in making this happen before we even think about the programme or events.
Tell me a little about your role in the Festival?
As Head of Artistic Development at Aberdeen Performing Arts, I’m responsible for producing the festival and steering it on an artistic track that ensures the festival forges a distinctive identity and programmes and commissions high quality events. We work with a freelance programmer to book the authors and chairs and create the ‘in conversation’ events that shape the main backbone of the programme. Around these we create one off events, late night sessions, exhibitions, workshops for all ages and opportunities for North-east writers to read and have their work profiled.
Granite Noir is also a festival that commissions and I look after all of the commissions including contracts, rights, overseeing the creation and exhibition or performance of the work.
Has the festival grown much over time? How many people are you expecting to attend this year?
Granite Noir is only two years old. Already this year we have outsold the total number of tickets we sold for the whole of the festival last year – a number of events we could have sold out many times over. Our author conversations and workshops will clock up around 2,000 sales, however, it’s the festival’s exhibitions, events and commissioned work that really push up numbers.
This year we worked with SPECTRA to co-commission a projection mapped artwork onto the façade of His Majesty’s Theatre. According to SPECTRA’s figures this was viewed by 91,000 people. This is another example of how Granite Noir aims to work with other cultural providers in the city to maximize the impact and potential of both of our work.
Also our Crime Scene Aberdeen exhibition has already registered thousands of people expressing an interest via Aberdeen Archive’s social media account.
Last year we received visitors from as far afield as Southampton and Gloucester to the festival, some of whom are heading back this year.
We also received press interest from New Zealand and North America last year as this has been one of the incentives to set up Granite Noir TV this year through which anyone can access the festival online. We’ll be releasing more information on this shortly.
How do you see Granite Noir developing over the next few years? What comes next?
Granite Noir is a festival that listens to feedback and we’ve created a couple of new strands of programming this year in response to comments received last year. For example, people wanted more evening events so we have curated Late Night Noir in the Lounge this year.
We are forging ever stronger relationship with Scandinavia through our Nordic Noir programme which we feel is one of the things that makes the festival stand out. We are interested to see where this goes over the coming year as well as forging further international partnerships.
Just a few of the great authors at this year’s festival
How do you think Granite Noir complements Bloody Scotland? Do you work together?
Granite Noir has a great relationship with Bloody Scotland. Both festivals have their own distinct style and personality that perfectly complement each other. Granite Noir is proud to make a stand in ‘the north’ – geographically, psychological and artististically in a way that no other current crime writing festival in the UK can. We’re the only one with a granite soul to ground us and the northern lights to inspire us.
If you could only attend one event yourself this year, which would it be?
I’m really excited to see the work in progress sharing of FOLK a new musical play and contemporary folktale that the festival has invested in the development of. FOLK is a story of faith and love – exploring human existence in our modern world. One of the creative team behind the work is Alan McHugh, better known as our annual pantomime dame at His Majesty’s Theatre. We are really enjoying working with him outside of panto. FOLK is only at work in progress stage, so this event will also be an opportunity for audiences to have their say in where they think the work should go from here.
And finally – how are ticket sales going? Anything yet sold out?
Tickets are flying out of box office. Many events are already sold out and could have done so many times over. The festival’s Poisoned High Tea sold out within 24 hours of going on sale.
My thanks to Lesley Anne for taking the time out from her hugely busy schedule to speak to me. I can’t wait for next Friday to get here, there are some fabulous authors attending and a whole slew of fantastic panels and events.
For a taste of some of the books you can check out my reviews here on the blog, or have a read of Sarah Ward’s blog, Crimepieces