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2021 Newcastle Writers Festival postponed until next year


Due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney, Newcastle Writers Festival has postponed its September festival until 2022.

 

Festival director Rosemarie Milsom said the safety of guest writers, volunteers, audiences, and staff, was paramount.


“While the Hunter has avoided a lockdown, there are travel and venue restrictions in place for good reason,” she said.


“The risks are too great.” The festival moved from its usual dates in April to September this year in the hope that by then large events would be up and running with COVID-safe measures in place. The Delta variant has upended this plan. “Until mid-June, everything was looking OK,” said Milsom.


“I don’t think anyone could have predicted NSW would have a public health crisis given how well we’d managed until then.”


More than 120 writers were included in the program and Milsom is confident most will be able to attend a rescheduled event in 2022. The festival celebrates its 10th anniversary in April, and the organisation is tentatively planning to stage its event then.


“We have a number of exciting ideas to mark this significant milestone but we’re being cautious about confirming them in until the situation improves in Sydney and restrictions ease.”


The last Newcastle Writers Festival was held in 2019. The organisation was forced to cancel the 2020 event three weeks out because of the unfolding pandemic. A portion of the 2020 program was presented online with great success, but the festival is eager to return to a live setting for the next event.


Until then, the organisation is maintaining its commitment to supporting writers and readers. So far this year, the festival has held a successful emerging writers’ program, hosted a podcast series featuring interviews with Australian and international writers, as well as launching a $5000 prize for an emerging writer in regional NSW. The winner will be announced in September.


The festival’s free program for primary students will be held online on September 14 and features leading children’s authors and illustrators including Graeme Base, Tania McCartney, as well as Kate and Jol Temple.


“It has been a hectic and challenging year so far,” said Milsom, “but we are not alone. The arts sector has been heavily impacted since the start of the pandemic and this current outbreak, while largely confined to Sydney, is affecting artists and organisations throughout the state. We don’t operate in a bubble.”


Without ticket revenue the festival is more reliant than ever on government and corporate funds. Milsom thanked sponsors for their ongoing support.


Anyone wishing to donate to the festival can do so via https://www.newcastlewritersfestival.org.au/donate/

Donations over $2 are tax deductible.


Contact Rosemarie Milsom for more information 0403041588 rmilsom@newcastlewritersfestival.org.au

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