John Howard had not long moved into Paul Keating’s bedroom at the Lodge when we started our Festival 20 years ago.
September 11 had not happened and Elton John’s Candle in the Wind was top of the charts. The first Harry Potter book was drawing children back to the magic of reading after a long drift away. It all seems like such a long time ago.
Are things automatically better because they are older, because of longevity? Are festivals in particular better experiences for the visitors just because they have hung around and survived the turbulence of taste?
No they are not.
Often they lose their juice. Their energy fades and the programmers and teams involved stop stretching themselves and asking the single most important question we all must ask when we are running an event:
How can I improve this experience for our guests?
At Byron Writers Festival we have spent 20 years trying hard to improve the experience for everyone who attends.
By using surveys and constant community engagement we hope that now two decades along we have been able to offer anyone who buys a ticket a unique experience. The best experience we can possibly provide.
If you have never been to our Festival please make a note to self: Buy Ticket.
For 20 years people have said the following to me after attending their first event: ‘I thought the Festival was just for writers and that’s why I did not come along before.
‘It’s so not just for writers… It’s a real north coast experience… It’s a cultural event in a tent.’
Byron Writers Festival is for everyone, so please get a ticket and join us.
I want to say thank you as we launch our 20th Festival.
Thank you to the large passionate local community who volunteer each year to help us run a world-class event in our own region.
Thank you also to our many partners and sponsors who have with toil and money supported us all these years.
Your generosity has allowed us to provide a platform for the adults and kids in our community to engage with ideas and stories, and writers and poets and musicians and screen writers and journalists from Australia and from all over the world.
I also want to thank the Board members, who are all volunteers, and the fabulous directors (eight in total) and staff who have all worked tirelessly and passionately to program and run what is one of Australia’s best cultural events.
Finally, I want to thank everyone who has bought a ticket at any time during our 20-year history. We really appreciate your support.
This is my last year as Chair of the event and I want to say finally that being part of Byron Writers Festival has nourished my soul for 20 years.
To anyone contemplating community work in our wonderful part of the world in which we are all blessed to live and work… Just do it.
The rewards are amazing.
Founder and Chair
Byron Writers Festival
• This article is from the Byron Echo‘s liftout feature from this week’s issue.