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“THE RISKS ARE TOO GREAT” Newcastle Writers Festival postponed to 2022

Picture: Chris Patterson.

Despite pushing the date from April to September, the 2021 Newcastle Writers Festival is not to be.

The ongoing impact of the Greater Sydney COVID outbreak has forced organisers to push the festival back to 2022.

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

“The risks are too great.”

Originally, slated for April, the festival was, this year, pushed to September in the hopes that large events would be up and running once again.

“Until mid-June, everything was looking okay,” Rosemarie said.

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

Rosemarie said that she was confident most of the 120 writers scheduled to attend the 2021 event would be able to attend an April 2022 event, which will be the festival’s 10th anniversary.

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

The last “in-person” Newcastle Writers Festival was held in 2019, and a portion of the 2020 program was delivered online.

Despite this, the festival’s commitment to supporting writers and readers continues unabated.

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 regional NSW emerging writer prize.

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

“It has been a hectic and challenging year so far but we are not alone,” Rosemarie said

“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.

Anyone wishing to donate to the festival can do so here. 

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