Brisbane Writers Festival has ended its 59th chapter on a high, engaging thousands of Queenslanders with its first hybrid program of live and virtual events from 7 to 9 May 2021.
More than 100 renowned writers, thinkers, artists and opinion-makers made their diverse views and unique voices heard across a range of topics and themes, laying a strong foundation for the Festival’s milestone 60th year in 2022.
Brisbane Writers Festival CEO Sarah Runcie said this year’s program featured more than 100 events celebrating ideas, opinions, experiences and the power of storytelling.
“The incredible success of this year’s programming lay in its diversity. It was well-rounded, covered a range of genres and a multiplicity of ideas and themes and was inclusive not just for Brisbane but Queensland audiences more broadly. The Festival’s digital programming empowered us to expand our reach to new and bigger audiences and transformed us from a three-day Festival in Brisbane to, essentially, a month-long Festival that people could safely enjoy and engage with in their homes,” Ms Runcie said.
“I am pleased to announce that Brisbane Writers Festival will again program a mix of in person and online events in 2022 following the success of this year’s hybrid model.
“We hosted superb online panel discussions with strong ideas and voices inspiring and challenging our audiences, proving unequivocally that Brisbane Writers Festival delivers as much rich content online as it does on-site.”
Innovation, currency and a strong focus on First Nations, local and national authors enabled Brisbane Writers Festival to program a stellar line-up with many sessions selling out.
“A highlight was undoubtedly hearing renowned author Robert Dessaix deliver a very special address at the Marion Taylor Opening Night Gala in the spectacular Watermall at Queensland Art Gallery. It was a special privilege to then see him join Charlotte Wood in conversation as two of Australia’s finest writers reflected on age and mortality,” Ms Runcie said.
“Another special moment was having Bruce Pascoe join the Festival in person, after he was initially programmed to participate online, and generously meet with fans and sign copies of Dark Emu.”
Ms Runcie said Brisbane Writers Festival was particularly proud of its strong First Nations programming which would continue in 2022, including the successful inaugural First Word and Last Word events where notable Indigenous artists are invited to deliver the opening and closing words of the Festival.
“It speaks to the cultural DNA of Brisbane and Queensland that we are home to so many powerful and poignant First Nations voices and impressive talent and we intend to tap into that rich pool of artistry in 2022 and beyond.”
The 60th Brisbane Writers Festival will also broaden its international outlook with a programming spotlight on the Pasifika and New Zealand / Aotearoa region.
“A diverse, vibrant, exciting program of poets, authors and artists of note from our near neighbours will weave its way through the Festival,” Ms Runcie said.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for these authors to reach a whole new audience and for Brisbane and Queensland audiences to get a taste of great writing and great storytelling they may not have come across before.”
Local stories and local storytellers are intrinsic to the fabric of Brisbane Writers Festival and will be championed in 2022 with three new initiatives that explore Brisbane as a much-storied city.
The Festival will partner with Brisbane Street Art Festival in a unique visual storytelling program that will literally take Brisbane Writers Festival to the streets.
Brisbane Writers Festival will curate a program of Brisbane stories, told by local authors in the places they reference, bringing a city-wide slate of new, non-traditional venues to the program.
Brisbane Writers Festival will also launch a smartphone app that maps and matches stories with local locations and uses geo-tagging to share story snippets – quotes, audio grabs or poetry – as app users travel about the city.
“We have long acknowledged this idea that story creates place, and this hyperlocal approach allows us to explore and share the multiple narratives that inhabit a space, from Indigenous story to colonial history to the current day,” Ms Runcie said.
“This intersection of authors and artists, of voices and ideas, will spotlight the myriad stories that call Brisbane home and create a cultural tapestry of the city.”
Brisbane Writers Festival returns in May 2022 and will launch its program in early 2022.
Image: Joe Ruckli Photography