Find Festival Jobs: Kayce Dewey, President, talks to Insight

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Kayce Dewey connected with Insight by inviting us to join her LinkedIn group: Find Festival Jobs. She readily agreed to chat to Insight about her perspective on the festival scene. She is the President and Co-Founder of Find Festival Jobs, a specialist recruitment agency for paid employment, internships and volunteering opportunities for a variety of arts and media events, including film festivals.

We are delighted to benefit from Kayce’s expertise in the field, but this article neither endorses her company over other similar enterprises nor does it suggest that recruitment agencies are the only or best channel for finding work at film festivals. Insight’s view is that is useful and educational to find out more about the process of getting work at film festivals from Kayce’s perspective.

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Interview: Kayce Dewey, Find Festival Jobs

Insight Please tell us about yourself and how you came to set up your business. Is your background in film festivals, in recruitment, or in both?

Kayce: I have been working in the festival and events industry for ten years in multiple roles and various genres, including dance, music and film. My first job was with the Spoleto Festival USA as a Box Office Assistant Manager. I took the job because I wanted to explore the arts and not-for-profit sectors. I never really considered the possibility of building a career in the festival industry.

As my experience grew working for other festivals, I noticed the need in the market for a site like FindFestivalJobs.com to serve both job seekers and employers. As a job seeker, I was either spending hours, days and weeks scouring the internet for the next opportunity or hearing about them through word of mouth. It was time consuming, tedious and frustrating. I kept saying to myself it would be great if there was one site where specific opportunities for all types of festival could be listed – be it jobs, internships, or volunteer positions.

Later on, as a manager who was hiring employees at different festivals, I found it equally difficult to find experienced talent. Most festivals do not have large budgets, especially to recruit candidates. Many sites charge too much for festivals to afford to pay to advertise for a single post, let alone multiple jobs. Along those lines, many of these high-priced ‘jobs boards’ covered many areas of employment – healthcare, education, IT, retailers, and so on. I found that our postings were getting lost in the crowd on these sites and the ads I placed were not attracting viable candidates. This was money and time lost. On the flip side, the only low-cost options were locally-based job boards but unfortunately, the quality of the candidate pool on these sites did not meet our needs.

After talking to job seekers and employers alike, I noticed there was sufficient need to launch a viable business to fill this gap.  I brought the idea of a festival recruitment agency  to Brock Butterfield, who worked with the Sundance Film Festival for five years in their IT department. Our combination of IT knowledge and experience of working for festivals formed the basis of a great partnership. As both of us come from similar backgrounds and know our target customer needs, we were able  to design and build the site to be straightforward to use for job seekers and employers.

Insight: How long has your company been established?

Kayce: We bought the domain name in 2010 and we launched the site in August 2011.

Insight: What is the demographic profile of a typical job-seeking candidate at your site?  

Kayce: The best part about my business is there really isn’t a typical profile for candidates. We have a younger audience seeking to intern, volunteer and work at festivals. For example, they may want to spend the summer travelling to multiple music festivals – working and listening to amazing music, or interning at somewhere like Jacob’s Pillow for their ten-week dance festival.

A second group of candidates comprise experienced employees who are seeking paid positions at levels from middle management to Executive Director. They are either looking for longer-term seasonal film jobs or full-time year-round positions.

We also have a growing number of retired people who are seeking volunteer opportunities to get involved in festivals, to give back to their communities as well as to cultivate new experiences, especially if they are travelling.

The best park of the festival and events industry is that you can generally find a job in any field you like and in any genre.

Insight: What kind of festivals use your services? 

Kayce: The types of festival vary greatly. The genres include music, film, dance, cultural, visual and performing arts, and food. They are located in the USA, New Zealand, and everywhere in-between. The festivals range from the titans of the industry – such as Sundance Film Festival, Vancouver FringeTribeca Film FestivalSXSW, and Brisfest (in the UK) – to smaller, community and start-up festivals.

Our main goal is to connect the festival industry, no matter the size or budget. Finding qualified people should not be a variable that depends on size. Your staff is your success; every employer is entitled to that.

The other benefit my business offers is that not just festivals that can post their job opportunities: any employer in the festival and event industry can advertise with us – vendors, production companies, ticketing companies, promoters, and so on.

Insight: How does your website work? How do festivals find workers and vice versa? What are your company’s unique selling points?

Kayce: The functionality of our website is pretty simple. An employer creates an account with our company under the ‘Employers sign up here’ button, where they complete an online registration process giving us information about their festival – such as location, dates, website URL, ‘about us’ details and contact information – and post their open positions for paid employment, internships and/or volunteering, telling us whether the posts are permanent, temporary or seasonal. The employer is also invited to input other relevant information, such as job descriptions, job responsibilities, personal specifications and desired/required qualifications. The employer can either enter their email address – if they would like the applicants to apply directly through us – or provide a link that they would like applicants to click to in order to apply for a post hosted on their own websites.

All a job-seeking candidate has to do is sign up with a valid email address and then collate and submit information into their newly created account, such as their employment history, resume and cover letter.  The website has a resume database, so seekers who attach their resumes to their profiles make it easier for prospective employers to find them.  Once candidates have completed and uploaded their personal and professional details, they can search through our site and apply for any jobs that we list.

We are the only recruitment site uniquely designed for employers and job seekers to connect in the festival and events industry, across all genres and fields of employment.

Insight: Do you have any testimonials you can share about the outcomes of matching festivals to workers? 

Kayce: We have had great testimonials from employers and job seekers. Recently, a festival manager from the Mill Valley Film Festival called  to say: ‘We were very impressed with all of the experienced, qualified applicants we received through your site.’

Since we are a growing company, we rely heavily on word of mouth and people sharing their stories about us. We love hearing all the experiences people have after finding jobs through our site. We encourage people to send us their pictures, tweets and personal emails. We constantly interact with our clients – employers or ‘festies’ – over social media and follow up emails.

We also publish and circulate a newsletter called ‘Why We Fest’, where people of all different jobs, ages and locations tell their stories of how they became involved with festivals and the roads their careers have taken to get them where they are now. The contributors impart their wisdom and advice to other ‘festies’. This is a handy resource for our younger job seekers to use to start exploring their options and see the different directions more experienced people have taken.

Insight: Is there any criteria you have regarding the type of festival that can advertise on your website? For example, Insight has a focus on films that explore the subject of faith. Would you present opportunities to work at a festival like Insight in any different way to festival clients without a specific focus?

Kayce: The only requirement to post with us is that you must be an employer in the festival and events industry – be it the festivals themselves or a third-party organisation, like a production company or ticketing business.

We always share our listings with our audience in the same way, albeit with different keywords. We publicise every listing on all our social media platforms and in the weekly ‘Why We Fest’ newsletter. We work hard to give each job opportunity as much exposure as possible, in every platform channel we can.

There are many times when I see a job listed on our site and think how cool it sounds. I take great satisfaction in sharing each listing opportunity with people.

Being involved with festivals is fun – yes, they are hard work and can require long hours of commitment and you might be running on fumes, but there is nothing else like it. Festivals accelerate the development of people’s skills and enables workers to make new contacts. Festivals enable people to be part of something that draws audience groups together, to gain knowledge and to enjoy themselves. It doesn’t get better than that!

Insight: Why do festivals advertise with your website for workers? What is it about your site that festivals find attractive, when they may be able to source workers via word-of-mouth without the need to advertise with you? What value does do you add?

Kayce: First, our experience is that the quality of your staff defines your success. Having qualified, passionate employees and volunteers allows a company or festival to operate at its maximum potential.

On our site, employers can attract thousands of qualified, experienced job seekers for each posting at very low cost.  One thing I love about our job seekers is that, although festivals are fun events, our applicants are incredibly passionate and serious about building their experience and their careers.

Posting a job listing with us saves an employer time, money and resources – three commodities in short supply. Also, we are starting to find that festivals come back to advertise with us year after year because of the quality of our candidates.

Job seekers are always looking for their next position so, from their perspective, any resource that cuts down frustration and time spent researching new opportunities is a positive benefit.  Looking for jobs is an exhausting process: we like to think we make it easier for both parties. As festival job seekers are often travelling to work with different organisations, they tell their co-workers and employers about the value of our site. As a result our pool of applicants and job opportunities continues to grow.

Insight: Do festivals find that hiring people via your site makes any difference to delegates experience of attending their festival? What do your candidates bring to the party?

Kayce: Most definitely. Although festivals are fun and provide a good time, I repeat that people who fill the positions we advertise take their jobs very seriously. Having an employee who has prior experience of working with festivals, a passion for the sector and  skills that match the position for which they have applied means many variables that can worry employers are minimised. Working for festivals is fun, but there is no room to be frivolous or lazy.

Insight: From your perspective, how do you see the current environment for film festivals and how do you see festivals developing in future? Do you see any trends or patterns?

Kayce: My perspective on festivals in general is that, although it has been an established industry for a while, the sector is finally hitting the mainstream with respect to people gaining employment and internships. Societies around the world are changing – people are travelling further to secure interesting jobs, combining the opportunity to explore different locations with the chance to gain relevant arts and media experience. People are noticing that working for festivals is a great way to be involved in the creative economy: they can learn skills without having to work a conventional 9-5 day.

Insight’s guest interview policy

The Insight Film Festival publishes interviews on our blog from guests of interest on an ad hoc basis. The Festival is delighted to publish a range of interview pieces on the themes of film and faith, and other subjects, but the personal views expressed in such articles do not reflect the views and opinions of the Insight Film Festival itself, which is an organisation that comprises individuals of many different faiths and none, all of whom have their own personal views and opinions on films, faith and other subjects.