The New Year: Emerging Writers Festival

As 2011 ends and 2012 begins, we’ve invited our resident organisations to consider the year gone by and to share their plans for the year to come.

In 2011 the Emerging Writers' Festival enjoyed our biggest year ever - and, I think, our most professional. We are just eight years old and I’m proud of how big and fabulous we have grown in such a short period of time.

Our key event, our Melbourne-based eleven-day festival for writers, grew to enormous levels, with many guests coming from interstate and regional areas for some or all of the festival. Highlights of the festival included our thought-provoking Town Hall Writers' Conference, the inaugural Business of Being a Writer Masterclass, and the supersexy Dirty Words performance event.

Our first-ever international writer in residence, Alan Bissett, charmed our audience, and we were proud to once again program the most inspiring and exciting writers in Australia today. For the first time ever we had a Festival Hub, at the intimate Rue Bebelons, and we loved seeing the bar jumping with literary conversations all day and well into the night. And of course, many people chimed in through our unique EWFdigital program also, with discussions and conversations lasting well beyond the festival.

The Festival also went interstate, visiting our friends in Brisbane for the first time. As a festival that promotes and develops emerging technologies for writers, it seemed like the perfect time to run an event all about writing and working in the digital space. We developed the idea for the Digital Writers' Conference then turned to crowdfunding to help bring it into reality; thanks to the support of our audience, we were successful.

The Brisbane roadshow was a lot of fun - in addition to insightful discussions about the future of writing at the conference, we hosted a highly-meta ‘writing about writing’ event at Avid Reader, and also ran successful social events aimed at touching base with Brisbane’s writers.

The strength of the EWF is in its community, and the willingness of our audience of emerging writers to talk, share and get involved is always the best part of our events. In 2012 we are continuing to work on ways to bring writers together - with the literary community and each other - in order to continue to inspire, inform and delight.

The date of the next Emerging Writers' Festival is 24 May to 3 June, and we’re planning lots of inspiring and informative events aimed specifically at writers. For the first time, we will be launching our publication The Reader at the Festival and continuing the ‘digital writers’ theme that we kicked off in Brisbane last year. And in a few short days we will be launching our first-ever festival prize, the Monash University Undergraduate Award for Creative Writing.

If you can’t make it to Melbourne, our Geeks In Residence (yes! we have two official festival geeks!) are working hard on creating a bigger-and-better-than-ever EWFdigital component to the festival, and with the support of the NSW Writers' Centre, we will be running a roadshow in Sydney later in the year also.

In 2012 and beyond, we will continue to grow and deliver the kind of programming that you have come to expect from the Emerging Writers' Festival: events that celebrate the art, the craft and the business of being a writer.

Lisa Dempster

Portrait of Lisa Dempster

Lisa Dempster is Executive Manager of Public Participation at Yarra Plenty Regional Library.

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