Countdown to NWF
This weekend (April 5-7, 2013) will see our inner-city buzzing with the energy of the first ever Newcastle Writers Festival (NWF). Organiser Rosemarie Milsom - the woman with the vision that saw the birth of the Festival - is confident that the weekend’s event will be a great success.
Ideally placed as a journalist at the Newcastle Herald, Rosemarie’s immersion in the world of words deepened when she joined the Hunter Writer’s Centre. There, she began to experiment with writing fiction under the guidance of the Centre’s Director, Karen Crofts. By participating in a weekly writing group, Milsom could see that there was a lot of untapped talent in the Hunter as well as an appetite for a writers festival.
In the early days of planning the Festival in August 2012, Rosemarie approached the University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Caroline McMillen, for funding assistance. The Vice Chancellor was, “amazingly supportive, and on board straight away,” says Milsom.
With the creative arts now regarded as an essential part of the rebirth of our region, in what is arguably the post-industrial age, the University is both a supporter and incubator for local creative talent. The depth of alumni and staff representation at the NWF is testament to this. An alum herself, Milsom lists the likes of Karen Crofts, 2012 Newcastle Poetry Prize winner David Musgrave, Marion Halligan, Courtney Collins, Michael Sala, Ryan O’Neil along with other festival presenters who are UoN graduates and/or current University staff.
As a festival partner, the University has also provided the Conservatorium of Music as the venue for the Festival’s opening night address by British-born actor and new Australian citizen, Miriam Margolyes, who will discuss ‘Why words matter’.
But this is not an academic festival. Rosemarie says that when she spoke to Caroline she made it clear that she wanted community members to feel they were welcome and represented at the NWF – even if they didn’t have a degree or a professional career in writing. The program is meant to reflect Newcastle and the region, so there are sessions on the sea, sport writing, crime writing, memoir, romance, local history, and women’s influence on social media. Also, says Rosemarie, it’s not just about people who write; the NWF is just as much aimed at people who enjoy reading.
With the opening night sold out and the Sunday session, ‘Celebrating Pride and Prejudice’s 200th anniversary’ with journalist Amanda Hooton, Miriam Margolyes and respected Austen researcher Professor John Wiltshire, having to change venues within City Hall to cater for the overwhelming demand, Milsom is quietly confident that the Festival sessions will be well attended. She encourages those who wish to attend the ticketed sessions to book online as there are limited tickets for sale at venues. The plentiful free sessions will operate on a first-in basis.
Full schedule and ticket prices are available at the NWF website.