I have returned from National Young Writers’ Festival 2023, proud as punch of what our team put together.
I was one of three board members able to attend the festival in person. Here we are pictured above (Lex Hirst, myself and Michael Daley), having a blast at Newcastle Library where a majority of the events took place.
Being a board member during the festival was mostly a case of being an enthusiastic cheerleader, which feels like a huge honour. We get to experience the events and be ambassadors for the team, but the truth is that it’s the staff who make all the good things happen.
The 2023 team – Chloe Mills, Kanika Chopra, Tina Huang, Matthew Tomich and Tarni Cruickshank – delivered a welcoming, inclusive event bringing together a community of writers to learn and connect over three busy days.
You can watch the digital events online. I especially recommend the Archives for Change discussion, a standout conversation from this year’s event.
Back in the early 00s, I was fortunate enough to attend iconic arts event This is Not Art, an umbrella festival that included the National Young Writers’ Festival and National Student Media Conference. I fell in love with this exuberant, chaotic weekend in Newcastle that blended artforms and encouraged cross-pollination between artistic communities.
After attending for a couple of years, I was asked to deliver the National Student Media Conference. It was my first time producing a large-scale event, and this transformed my ambitions for my creative and work life. I fell in love with creative production, artistic direction and delivering artistic events. I also met and worked with many artists who became co-conspirators and peers in future projects. I would come back to the festival many, many times as a presenter and an audience member.
I am grateful that I got to have these years in an era where arts funding was not at the crisis point we now find it in, and where my university and student union invested in me so I could develop as an artist and an arts worker. Like many arts organisations and events, TiNA has changed radically over the years: the National Student Media Conference folded after VSU destroyed student magazines, but thankfully the National Young Writers’ Festival has flourished over the years.
I’m joining the NYWF board this year. I think it’s a great opportunity to give back to a festival and a community that I have benefited greatly from. I want to see young writers have the chance to shape this event and the community it creates, and I look forward to supporting them in this role.