#inspirationdate | a cappucino with Matt Ravier

Matt Ravier has a reputation for putting on creative, innovative, and most importantly outrageously fun events like Jurassic Lounge, so we were kinda pumped for our date with him this morning.

The lovely Canadian (French born) man we sat down with at Reuben Hills spoke of the importance of being generous with time, energy and ideas. It became more and more obvious that he isn’t just saying that; his modus operandi is one of collaboration and collective creativity.

He’s a smooth but humble operator of a company that will succeed because it is equipped for the future. 'The Festivalists' are a true learning organisation where (unlike most event production outfits) they build skills internally in order to create enriching experiences for their team, and allow this team a hand in shaping the company as well as their own careers.

Matt's super brain knows that the landscape of events and experiences is constantly shifting and he needs to reassess the relevance of his work year on year to keep it fresh. Another key that keeps his events on the cutting edge is protecting creative independence. He works hard to create safe environments for artists to be able to give 100% and never have their art or creativity compromised, he designs projects to ensure the integrity of ideas and concepts are never subject to constraints from sponsors or stakeholders, and he nurtures the creative independence of his team. In fact, he even incorporates the creative input of audiences into his events.

Matt’s famously unique experiences are this way because visitors are given the opportunity to shape the event. A user-generated program (if you will) and an on-the-night interactive scenario is achieved simply by inviting the audience to give instant feedback on the event via twitter and other channels. He notes that an awesome way to show that an event organiser cares (for example, if the line at the bar is too long, if a talk is dragging on) is to actually read tweets, respond on the spot to requests, and make the night itself a constant conversation between the artists, the event producers and the audience. 

Equally, audiences contribute to future programming and event ideas, letting everyone be part of the creative process and have an event feel like it’s ‘their night’. This - as Matt puts it - means they fall in love with the event, have some ownership over it, tell their friends to come, and do your marketing for you.

One of Matt's social missions is to break down the barriers between high and low brow culture and make art accessible by putting a fun or interactive experience around it. We learn of this philosophy that put pole dancers, chocolatiers, spoken word poets and 'dino wars' in the same room at the Australian Museum for Jurassic Lounge. 'A playful environment' he says, 'will help to demystify challenging art and facilitate a dialogue'. This is important because, according to Matt, exposure to art and culture helps people become their full and real selves.

Another social mission behind The Festivalists - a not-for-profit organisation - is socially inclusive experiences. 'Young at Heart' is a seniors film festival, and 'Access All Areas' is a festival where blind people are able to watch film by having the action narrated by actors, and films show in theatres where rows of seats are removed to accommodate wheel chairs. The best bit: it's just like any other film festival. 'There are still Q&A's, drinks, parties and conversations about film'.

Matt and The Festivalists are also behind The Courtyard Sessions, The Sydney Film Festival Hub, Kino Sydney (an 'open mic short film night'), Possible Worlds (Sydney's Canadian Film Festival) and a whole suite of events changing Sydney's film and arts culture for the better.

For Matt, Sydney is an easy place to live and work because our economic and creative climate is currently one where people want you to succeed, ask what they can do to help, and 'there's still lots to be done'. Yes, there is a long way to go for Sydney, although a shift is well under way. And while the recent change in Sydney’s cultural life seems to have come on suddenly, it has come as a result of people like Matt working to create events like these for more than 7 years.

We look forward to working with this guy whose personal beliefs have translated into awesome events that are shaping life in Sydney. And a guy who has lofty ideals, but also knows that events are about a good time, and knows how to throw a mean party.