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Sunday, January 24, 2021

New dates for 2021 Newcastle Writers Festival

The Newcastle Writers Festival will welcome new dates for next year.

The ninth event is scheduled to take place alongside the first weekend of the City of Newcastle’s arts festival from 24 to 26 September, offering audiences a jam-packed cultural program.

Director Rosemarie Milsom said the move, from proposed dates in May, was essential to alleviate uncertainty about “live” activities and to enable planning for a comprehensive in-venue package featuring writers from across Australia.

Some digital sessions will be included – and international writers are set to appear.

“As one of Australia’s first large-scale arts events to cancel because of COVID-19 this year, we were very keen to avoid a repeat,” Milsom said.

“While our rapid pivot to a smaller online program in April was rewarding, it didn’t replace the magic of being in the same room with wonderful writers and fellow book-lovers.

“I know I’m not the only person who is eagerly awaiting the return of festivals and I’m looking forward to reuniting with our loyal audience.”

The 2019 Newcastle Writers Festival panel featured Kerry O’Brien, Trent Dalton, Chloe Hooper and Rosemarie Milsom. Photo: Liam Driver

The announcement of new dates comes after confirmation this week of ongoing NSW Government funding.

The festival will receive $70,000 from Create NSW for its expanded COVID-19 adapted 2021 program, which centres on digital events until the second half of the year.

A weekly podcast series will run from March to May and a two-day emerging writers program in June features online and “live” activities.

Three guest curators will also be appointed.

The festival is launching the Newcastle Emerging Writer Prize, too, which is sponsored by local wine label Elephant in the Room.

The winner of the new prize will be announced at the September festival and will receive $5000 for professional development.

“While COVID-19 has had an impact on all artists, emerging writers have been heavily impacted,” Milsom said.

“The festival has always supported the local writing community and this award cements our commitment.”

Program submissions for 2021 will be accepted via the festival’s website from 11 January to 22 February.

Meanwhile, the September program is expected to launch on 13 August.

For updates about next year’s events, follow the festival’s Facebook page.

For more information, contact festival director Rosemarie Milsom at [email protected] or 0403 041 588.

Alternatively, visit www.newcastlewritersfestival.org.au