JUST two weeks after the apparently successful “Good Folk” festival in Queanbeyan over Easter, and two months after the National Folk Festival announced Katie Noonan as its incoming artistic director, the general manager
of the festival since 2019, Helen Roben, is moving on.
Roben has been appointed CEO of Music for Canberra, the not-for-profit music school supported by ArtsACT and the Snow Foundation, which also acts as the umbrella for, among others, Canberra Youth Orchestra and the James McCusker Orchestra.
Folk Festival board chair, Stephen Gallacher, said Roben had capably steered the festival through extremely difficult times and paid tribute to her skills.
Another board member, long-time Canberra arts identity, Lynne O’Brien, will step into the role on a temporary basis while the search for a new general manager begins.
O’Brien has deep roots in the folk community and arts management experience, which includes having worked with Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, of which she was a founding member.
Roben’s move to an organisation fraught with managerial problems for the past two years will have some members of the music community scratching their heads, but as Stephen Gallacher says, her organisational and financial management skills had helped to ensure the festival’s survival during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She may bring those skills to bear in a smaller but equally complex organisation.