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News regarding The Next Chapter and the Aesop Foundation

As the Aesop Foundation begins to build on their success in Australia by turning their focus overseas, 2022 marks the final year of this incredible partnership with the Wheeler Centre.

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For four years the Wheeler Centre’s game-changing writers’ scheme The Next Chapter has been made possible by a generous partnership with the Aesop Foundation. Now, the Foundation will begin to build on their success in Australia by turning their focus overseas, offering opportunities for communities across the globe. As a result, 2022 marks the final year of this incredible partnership with the Wheeler Centre.

The Next Chapter was launched in 2018 as yet another way the Wheeler Centre could support writers, and create change in the Australian publishing landscape in the process by giving writers the time and the space to focus on their work.

In extremely generous gestures of support, the Aesop Foundation and George and Rosa Morstyn made this dream possible. By financially backing this unique and wide-reaching project, the Foundation enabled the Wheeler Centre to provide professional and financial support to nurture a new wave of writers, and elevate the Australian stories that weren’t being published, working towards a more representative and accessible publishing landscape.

‘A focus on story-telling and literacy recognises that stories offer the opportunity to share our own experiences and help us to gain an insight into the lives of others. By empowering people to share their stories in their own words and their own ways, we can broaden horizons and promote agency. The Next Chapter has amplified unheard voices in our society since 2018 and it’s been a pleasure to follow the forty past participants on their individual journeys.’

The Aesop Foundation

The Aesop Foundation’s four-year support for this landmark scheme has helped to create an enduring awareness that for too long, only a certain set of stories have been told in this country. Since 2018, The Next Chapter has championed new writers and encouraged risk and experimentation freed from commercial constraints, and supported publishers to find and elevate new voices. So far, 40 participants have been recognised by the scheme, which has supported each writer with a stipend of $15,000; matched them with a prominent Australian writer as their mentor; provided a residency at Varuna, The Writers’ House, in the Blue Mountains; as well as helping make connections and guide their process through the complex world of publishing.

Mentors have included acclaimed writers such as Mirandi Riwoe, Claire Coleman, Fiona Wright, Melissa Lucashenko, Anna Krien, Bruce Pascoe, Alice Pung, Rebecca Giggs, Romaine Moreton, Chloe Hooper, Kristina Olsson, Sally Morgan, Sisonke Msimang, Rebecca Lim, Cate Kennedy and judges have included Benjamin Law, Christos Tsiolkas and Sophie Cunningham.

In a sign of the dedication and commitment to the scheme from some of the country’s most respected writers, many judges and mentors have committed to the scheme for more than one year. Nam Le, Tony Birch, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Alison Whittaker, Maria Tumarkin, Jeanine Leane, Arnold Zable and Ellen Van Neerven have all acted as both a mentor and as a judge, and Stella Prize-winning author Evelyn Araluen has come full circle from inaugural participant to mentor.

‘The Next Chapter has been a life-changing experience for me. Over the course of the program, I have not only completed a manuscript alongside a great mentor, but I have also secured a major publishing deal with Penguin Random House… The Next Chapter has genuinely created the next chapter of my life. It has put me on the map and I will never forget this tremendous impact it has had on my career.’

Ennis Cehic, 2018 recipient and author of Sadvertising

The support provided by The Next Chapter scheme has been critical in allowing participants the time and space to write, and offering them valuable insight and practical advice for navigating the publishing industry. The Wheeler Centre is proud that this commitment to new writing has seen the negotiation, marketing and publication of three titles so far –  Adam Thompson’s Born Into This (University of Queensland Press), Ennis Ćehić’s Sadvertising (Penguin Random House) and Evelyn Araluen’s Stella Prize-winning Dropbear (University of Queensland Press), with more in the works.

‘As a publisher, I am always looking for new voices and writers whose work will connect with, inspire and challenge Australian readers. The Next Chapter scheme is an invaluable opportunity for Australian writers.’

Aviva Tuffield, Publisher, University of Queensland Press

The Wheeler Centre has treasured the Aesop Foundation’s four years of support for the scheme as a true model of trust, collaboration and vision, and with gratitude we wish them every success as they expand the Foundation globally. The Centre is deeply proud of the exceptional impact of The Next Chapter to date and will take this opportunity to consult with the alumni and mentors throughout the life of the scheme, to find new ways to build on its success in the future.

In addition to presenting and promoting their work through the Centre’s year-round events programme, the Wheeler Centre continues to be committed to finding ways to support writers with the time, space and funding that can free them up to create new works. The Centre’s incubator programs – such as the Hot Desk Fellowships and Signal Boost – uniquely connect emerging writers and audio-makers with mentors who are leaders in these fields, offering them one-to-one training and tools to launch their careers and share their unique stories.

While the Next Chapter will not open for applications this year, the scheme will proceed uninterrupted for the current intake of writers and their mentors, and the Wheeler Centre team will continue to facilitate publishing outcomes, connections and industry guidance for current and former participants.

The Wheeler Centre is currently offering opportunities for collaboration and partnership for those interested in supporting the continuation of this remarkable program.

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