Adelaide Fringe boss Heather Croall returned to Adelaide after transforming Sheffield Doc/Fest in the UK from a small local film festival into the “premier league of international doc events” (Variety).
As boss of Sheffield Doc/Fest, Croall increased attendance numbers 10-fold by securing big names such as Louis Theroux, David Attenborough and Michael Palin. Along with increasing the audience, Croall significantly built Sheffield Doc/Fest’s industry side, something she plans to do with Fringe. “I wanted to get back to a multiple art-form festival,” Croall says. “My experience with running the festival in Sheffield; I dramatically grew the industry side of that festival, which was learning how to make the business opportunities for the artists or filmmakers significant on a world platform. That experience is something I will be bringing to the Adelaide Fringe over the next few years. “There’s a lot of initiatives that I introduced in Sheffield that are about teaching artists how to pitch their work,” she says. “How to make a successful pitch to a funder or a touring booker or distributor. And that’s something that we can really develop a lot here in the Fringe. For me, it’s like my work for the last 15 years has been all about creating opportunities for artists, whether that’s filmmakers, or digital media artists. Now, it’s across multiple artforms.” The Whyalla-raised Croall worked for the Fringe for a decade, running the Super-8 festival strand Shoot the Fringe as well as Shooting from the Hip. Croall also programmed the outdoor cinema on Rundle Street as part of the Fringe. She calls her current role one of the best jobs in South Australia and one of the best jobs in the arts in the country. Croall wants to deliver Fringe back to its roots and transform the city. “We’re responsible for the vibrancy around town in-between the shows, sort of like the Fringe glue between the venues,” she says. “Having a festival vibe in the city, transforming the city and permeating every corner of the city, that’s our job. We can’t expect artists and venues to liven up the bits between their venues. They do their venue and they do their shows and we can light up everything else and get everything else feeling really vibrant. For example, the Parade is a big focus for us as a kick-off on the opening weekend. That’s something that really sets the tone of the Fringe. “Take a walk outside the normal and go see something in a venue that you haven’t been to before. That’s the tone we want to set from the night of the Parade on the opening weekend.” adelaidefringe.com.au