Dance at NFF 2017

Meeting with Pam Merrigan, Program Director, National Folk Festival

10.30 -12 am, Monday 5 December 2016


Pam Merrigan:           Program Director, NFF

Roger Gifford:           ACT Ctte Rep, ASDN

Ray Mulligan:             ACT Ctte Rep ASDN


The NFF in 2017 will feature two dance venues, as has been the case since 2013.

Pam Merrigan still holds an aspiration for a third dance venue once NFF finances improve sufficiently.  However, given the smaller site footprint now adopted for financial and security reasons, it is most likely that a third dance venue would be placed in a large marquee. But that is not likely to happen soon.


1st Venue

In 2017 the Coorong will again be the main Dance venue. The fit-out in 2017 will feature drapes to absorb sound as it did in 2016. This is expensive but the sound quality that it produces is considered essential to the type and quality of dance programmed.


2nd Venue

The Piazza will be for display and smaller dances. The floor area will be the same as 2016 and it will be in the same position within the performance precinct; behind the grandstand.


Program content

We were informed of what seems to be developing as an extensive and varied dance program. However, the NFF plans to release information about the program for 2017 in stages and details are embargoed until the NFF’s press release in January.


The Program Director informed us of an initiative which she referred to as Fringe World. The ACT Government is funding this initiative in 2017. This will see a tent placed on the oval, outside the entertainment zone, where it will seek to engage with a younger set of patrons. This initiative will include some emphasis on dance as part of its remit.


ASDN concerns

We let Pam know of ASDN’s concern that the advertising of acts seems to not promote dance and dance bands much.

Social Media

  • – She explained that NFF relies heavily on the social media for communicating information and advertising to the public; its effectiveness relies on the extent to which recipients ‘like’ and ‘share’ these feeds on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Unfortunately, only one recipient in the dance-scene seems to be doing that.   The message is that for those who use those social media is to consider spreading the NFF advertising feeds about dance further through their social media groups.


  • – The other major promotional outlet for NFF is through its E-News, with distribution to its in-house email list.  Pam noted the ASDN’s wish that more emphasis be placed on dance and dance bands at the NFF in these promotional newsletters.

Press and Radio

  • – With regard to the mass media she regretted that NFF doesn’t have much control over what the newspapers, radio and TV promote, rather they tend to emphasise high profile groups that they think will be attractive to their audiences,