Katie Noonan named as National Folk Festival artistic director

Singer-songwriter Katie Noonan will present her first festival in 2022 as artistic director . PIcture: Karleen Minney.
Singer-songwriter Katie Noonan will present her first festival in 2022 as artistic director . PIcture: Karleen Minney.

Multiple ARIA winner Katie Noonan has been unveiled as the new artistic director of the National Folk Festival.

The singer-songwriter will present her first festival in 2022, the 30th year for the event in Canberra and a new chapter under her leadership, closing the page on pandemic disruptions.

The festival normally returns each Easter in Canberra, but has not been held since 2019 due to coronavirus restrictions leading to cancellations in 2020 and 2021.

"The original remit of the festival five decades ago was to be a meeting place for the sharing of ideas, stories and songs," Noonan said.

"That's such a beautiful mission statement for the festival and I feel very lucky to be the caretaker of that."

Noonan wants to broaden the appeal of the festival and keep the focus on highlighting local artists.

"What is so special about the folk festival we definitely want to keep, because it's beautiful ... that sense of community," she said.

"What a festival is post COVID is a very different proposition so we can't make any big decisions yet because it's still such an evolving situation."

Noonan wants the event, which brings tourists from across the country and acts from overseas, to "feel like home" and attract a diverse audience from those who like the traditional way of things, to young people with new ideas.

"Taylor Swift just put out a folk album so folk is not a dirty word anymore, not that it ever was, but returning to the reasoning of what folk is will only open the experience," Noonan said.

"I'm excited about broadening it but doing it carefully."

Singer-songwriter Katie Noonan has been named the new artistic director for the National Folk Festival. Picture: Karleen Minney.

Singer-songwriter Katie Noonan has been named the new artistic director for the National Folk Festival. Picture: Karleen Minney.

Noonan has previously spent four years as artistic director of the Queensland Music Festival and was the musical director of the opening and closing ceremonies at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

In addition to her solo work, Noonan has been involved in the pop-rock band George as lead singer, as well being a founder of the jazz trio Elixir.

More recently, Noonan was a contestant on The Masked Singer Australia.

Noonan said the push towards local artists made necessary thanks to closed borders has removed the "cultural cringe" Australians feel towards their own musicians.

"I think a lot of people think [musicians] from overseas, they're better, and it's just not true," she said.

"We've only been able to watch our own homegrown talent live, which has actually been awesome because I think people have gone 'wow, how good are Australian artists'."

The folk festival's managing director, Helen Roben, said the appointment of Noonan to the new role was a boost to the event.

"We have no doubt that her breadth of experience and unwavering passion for the arts will shape the festival's evolution, helping to grow the National Folk Festival's reputation as one of the best folk festivals in Australia," she said.

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This story Katie Noonan named new Folk Festival director first appeared on The Canberra Times.