Hannah Clarke is part of our Fanny Pack

Hannah Clarke has been the NZ Fringe Festival Director for the past 8 years growing the festival by 200%, is the Executive Producer and Director of Present Company Live and an independent Arts Practitioner currently deep in MFA research mode

Follow Hannah at NZ Fringe and her independent work at Present Company Live and their instagram

Who or what did you want to be when you grew up?

A clown or a DoC park ranger.

What is your professional background?

Over twenty years professional experience in performing arts and festivals with the prerequisite hospo and retail experience, and a few years of UK marketing and advertising agency time.

When do you feel the most creative or inspired?

When I’m at Fringe festivals, seeing work and experiencing the art. Then when I’m talking with friends, jamming on ideas, sharing bad puns, and talking through our experiences. And sometimes just when I’m walking the dog.

When are you happiest?

When I’m feeling creative and inspired, or about thirty mins into a bush walk or bicycle jaunt.

What’s the best stress relief advice you’ve ever been given?

Go outside.

What is your most treasured possession?

It’s not really a possession, it’s a relationship. It’s my relationship with my kid. Being responsible for ensuring his health and happiness and his approach to the world is a big task and the time we spend together is something I treasure immensely, even if it is mostly him complaining I’ve made the wrong thing for dinner, again muuuum!

What is the most important thing life has taught you thus far?

Everything changes. Everything evolves.

What is your number one business tip for surviving (and thriving) in your industry?

Don’t be a dick. Value everyone you meet equally.

What is your big project or goal for 2019?

I’m studying for an MFA (Creative Practice) at Vic Uni, that’s my big project but alongside that is a massive shift in my professional practice, I’m stepping down as NZ Fringe Director after 8 wonderful years, devoting a lot of time to Present Company Live, and looking for new adventures and a new role in the arts. Present Company will be premiering new work early next year, and then… well, I have no idea! And it’s terrifying and exhilarating and I can’t wait.

Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?

Tessa Waters is always inspiring me. Have you seen her? She’s this incredible clown boss lady, often accompanied by sequins and other boss ladies.

What do you continually ask yourself?

What are you doing Clarke!?! What should you be doing Clarke!?!

Who do you collaborate with best?

Jon Coddington is my long term collaborative partner. We’ve been bringing each other in on projects since we met in 2004, and we established Present Company to make Puppet Fiction in 2011, a table top marionette homage to Pulp Fiction. We toured that show internationally for five years, taking it around Australia and the UK. We talk and laugh all the time, and I feel like no idea is too silly, too impractical, too political; nothing is off the table. It’s very freeing having a friendship that’s creative and supportive.

Who has challenged you to be better than you once were?

Fringe artists. All the fringe artists I’ve had the privilege of supporting over my eight years at the festival. I had the responsibility to do my best to support them in delivering the festival. Together we’ve grown the festival over 200%. The artists are constantly thrilling and exciting me with new ideas and reimagining ways to communicate with audiences. I have had to be the best I can to help make that happen.

How does courage manifest in your work?

Ooo, well, it’s all about taking risks. Saying yes and trying something. At the premiere of every production and event I’m always sat on my hands, heart pounding, wondering ‘Will people like it? Will they get it? Will it stay with them?’.

When has mentorship played a role in your life?

Malia Johnston from Movement of the Human, has been an unofficial mentor for me the last few years. She is another incredible inspiring woman. She takes the time to ask me what I’m doing and offer guidance when I’m blocked or struggling. I really appreciate it, her professional ear helps my work and my wellbeing. In the arts wellbeing is very much linked to our mahi, and finding balance is essential to productivity.

What one thing do you think would improve gender equality in New Zealand? Throwing gender stereotypes and gender constructs in the bin. IN THE BIN.