Brooke Kelly WAM Festival Director

Brooke-KellyBrooke Kelly has helmed the WAM Festival for a few years now, but 2013 marks the start of a new era. BOB GORDON chats with Kelly in the lead-up to the WAM Festival taking place from this Thursday-Saturday, November 7-9. Head to for full details.


How manic is this week?

This is the week where you have to have your game face on! It does get busy in the lead up to the events, but we have a great team at WAM and we are all supporting each other during this crazy time.


Describe what it is to be the WAM Festival Director?

To be completely honest, at times I feel like I am herding cats. But most of the time I just love working in a role where I can offer local musicians opportunities to be seen and heard by the public and by the music industry.


Does it get easier by the year, or are there always new scenarios to dream and new problems to solve?

Yes, each year we have new and bigger dreams, and then comes the problem-solving on how to make those WAM Festival dreams come true on a shoestring budget, especially with WAM looking at ways to keep the festival improving and growing. Problem-solving is the best part of every job, right?


You’ve moved the festival to November from May to coincide with Ausmusic Month. As the festival approaches what are emerging as the advantages in the shift?

One of the advantages is the weather! I know it has been a bit hit and miss lately – where is the sunshine? – but with the addition of extra outdoor stages, the beautiful spring weather is going to be a huge plus for the Saturday Spectacular event. Other advantages include WAM staff making great connections at Bigsound in September and encouraging people to come over from the East Coast, and also the greater exposure the West Australian music scene receives on the radio as part of Ausmusic Month.


How’s it felt going into the festival this year with the new branding?

It feels WAMtastic! And that is all I can say about that.


The WAM(i) Festival, going back to the ‘90s, has garnered good industry and media attention. Is that still on the up and up?

It certainly is, and more so on a national basis than ever before. WAM has received so much good feedback on the new WAM look and the new festival format from people in WA as well as on the East Coast so we feel confident we are reaching our target audience.
As we noted last week, WAM’s CEO Dr Wendy Were is moving on shortly. What do you feel she has brought to WAM and what she has gifted for its future?

The WAM office was very sad when we were told the news of Wendy leaving but, of course the Australia Council want her! Wendy has been wonderful for WAM and for us as staff to work with. I know how hard Wendy has worked to prepare WAM’s business plan for the next three years and the fortunate thing is that the work she has done will continue to unfold through the implementation of this business plan.
The conference looks strong this year. How important is this element for you?

It is imperative that the conference offers strong opportunities for WA musicians to connect with the East Coast and network with people who are not regularly visiting WA. It can be difficult for musicians to jump the isolation hurdle so the WAM Conference offers knowledge and the networking opportunities to make things a little easier.

What are you looking most forward to during the conference?

The program is really diverse, definitely a lot of panels I will be sitting in on, but the main one I am really looking forward to is the opening keynote with Adalita and Cath Haridy, for sure!



The awards this year head to the Astor Theatre. Describe their evolution…

The WA Music Awards is now in its 20th year and has acted as the launch pad for many artists over the years and it has continued to grow with local support, thus leading us to a larger venue. This is the event where our music community can acknowledge and celebrate the musical achievements of West Australian musicians.


Ken ‘Squasha’ Knight is this year’s Hall Of Fame Inductee. Why was he chosen?

Based on feedback from the WA Music Council and the knowledge of WAM staff, WAM chose to induct Squasha into this year’s WAM Hall Of Fame to recognise the long time he has committed to the music community in Western Australia. Squasha’s been working hard since the ‘80s as a band promoter, venue manager, festival promoter and always ensured there was plenty of room on the bills for West Australian musicians.


What are your hopes for this year’s WAM Festival?

That local musicians utilise the opportunities being offered to them and that we all celebrate masses of talent there is in WA by supporting the live music showcases.


And plans for the next?

You’ll have to wait and see. Wink!