Lisa Dempster to take MWF Top Job

Lisa Dempster, outgoing director of the Emerging Writers Festival, has been appointed director of the Melbourne Writers Festival.

Michael Webster, chairman of the Melbourne Writers Festival, told Bookseller and Publisher magazine that Dempster is ‘one of Australia’s most exciting programmers’ and that she ‘inspired the festival board with her ambition for the festival’.

Lisa Dempster: 'To be the director of the Melbourne Writers Festival in this City of Literature is a dream come true for a lifelong bookworm like me.'

Lisa Dempster: 'To be the director of the Melbourne Writers Festival in this City of Literature is a dream come true for a lifelong bookworm like me.'

Dempster has been director of the Emerging Writers Festival since 2009, when she took over from David Ryding – who was preceded by Steve Grimwade, outgoing director of the Melbourne Writers Festival.

Among Dempster’s many achievements in expanding the Emerging Writers Festival during her time there has been the launch of EWF Digital, an online component of the programme.

‘I love festivals and I love literature and I love Melbourne,’ Dempster told the Wheeler Centre this afternoon, speaking from Ubud, where she is currently working with the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival. ‘It seemed like the perfect fit. To be the director of the Melbourne Writers Festival in this City of Literature is a dream come true for a lifelong bookworm like me.’

‘Right now I’m excited about attending this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival and getting to enjoy the amazing program that Steve Grimwade and his team has put together.’

Steve Grimwade’s final festival will begin next week, on 23 August, and finish on 2 September. ‘Steve has done a terrific job consolidating the festival’s position as one of Australia’s most anticipated arts festivals,’ Michael Webster told Bookseller and Publisher. ‘Lisa is precisely the right person to now take the baton, and take the festival into its next chapter.’

We asked Dempster about her vision for the future.

‘I’m interested in building on what the Melbourne Writers Festival already does so well,’ she said. ‘I’m all about connection and celebration – I want to create more ways for people to come together and enjoy writing of all kinds.’

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