Leading writers who were due to appear at the Newcastle Writers Festival this weekend (April 4 and 5) will feature in a new free online program: NWF Stories to You – taking the festival for the first time directly into people’s homes.
The festival has launched a condensed online program after it was forced to cancel three weeks ahead of its scheduled delivery because of the impact of COVID-19.
Behrouz Boochani, Clare Bowditch, David Leser, Favel Parrett and Charlotte Wood are among 25 writers participating in NWF Stories to You. The program includes 17sessions and can be viewed via Facebook and YouTube on what would have been the festival weekend.
Festival director Rosemarie Milsom has spent the past couple of weeks coordinating the program, and helping writers and participants make the significant switch to digital delivery. “We’re all adjusting to life in the midst of a pandemic,” she said. “We were the first large Australian writers’ festival to cancel. It was devastating on so many fronts and in particular for the writers who were due to participate. This worsened as a cascade of cancelled festivals and events followed.
“I’d spent months creating the program and I didn’t want it to go to waste so I decided to focus on doing what I could to support writers and also provide content for our loyal, house-bound audience.”
Milsom hopes the online sessions will encourage people to engage with the featured writers’ books, especially at a time when people are confined to their homes and have more time to read. “This is a new experience for many of us but I believe it’s worthwhile,” she said
NWF: Stories to You is free and many of the participants have donated their time although they have been offered payment. “The festival team appreciates the challenges people are facing and that’s why the organisation is committed to offering the program for free,” said Milsom.
“We have been so grateful for the offers of support from many in our community to donate their ticket refunds. We welcome donations, no matter how small, as we do our best to plan for 2021.”
Download the online program and check viewing details at https://www.newcastlewritersfestival.org.au/storiestoyou/
Tax-deductible donations to the festival can be made at https://www.newcastlewritersfestival.org.au/donate/