Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The rise and rise of the New England Writers' Centre

Under the energetic leadership of writer Sophie Masson, (web site here), the New England Writers' Centre (NEWC) appears to be going from strength to strength.

It's only a few years'ago that the Centre lost its State Government funding.and was forced to let its full time director go. I joined the Board at the time and remember the feeling of gloom that surrounded the Centre's future. It was hard to be positive.

I am no longer a Board member, but I was there during the beginning of the transformation period that has now made the Centre such a force, This was helped by renewed State funding achieved with local member Adam Marshall's support, but this was only possible because the Centre itself was transforming under Sophie's leadership.

Inland Armidale lacks the sex appeal and reach now attached to Byron Bay. With time, economic and social change its prominence has shrunk from the the putative capital of our own New England state to the point that it is sometimes described as just a country town. And yet, somehow, the city survives as a unique university, educational and administrative centre.

Armidale has always been a writers' hub. Relative to its size, the current population is around 23,000, Armidale has more writers than any place in Australia. It has its own tradition, its own writer schools such as the Armidale poets who form part of the broader web of the New England literary tradition. You won't find this tradition referenced in literary writing with its metro focus, but it exists. Armidale is not alone here, of course. The writers of the Northern rivers are also neglected. I think that you would find the same in North Queensland or the Riverina..

The thing that the NEWC does, I think, par excellence, is that it links local writers into the broader networks required to have a chance in the competitive world of literature. There was a period in the dark days when the NEWC focus narrowed to just Armidale. Now the Centre is again extending its reach beyond the city.

Even though I am no longer a Board member, I am just so proud of what the Centre has achieved in recent years.  Well done to all those involved.          

1 comment:

Australian Risk Services said...

Nice Blog Content Thanks to Author. Australian Risk Services assists companies in performing confined spaces risk assessments.
We Provides best Risk Management Systems in Australia