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Somerset Storyfest

Storyfest expands with annual program of events

Samantha Morris | December 2018

As Somerset Celebration of Literature marked its 25th anniversary this year, it also unveiled a new brand and direction.

Now known as Somerset Storyfest, the Gold Coast’s signature literary event has also launched a year-long program of events to bring literature to people of all ages alongside its three-day March festival.

Delivering a series of literary experiences along with workshops, masterclasses and featured authors throughout the year, Storyfest is nurturing emerging writers and providing opportunities for readers and writers alike.

A three-year investment from City of Gold Coast is supporting the expansion and the annual program of literary events. It’s part of $1.8 million in funding which will be shared between nine Gold Coast arts organisations through the City’s Triennial Grants Program. The aim is to support the continued growth of the sector by building capacity for these groups to deliver high-quality cultural products for the community.

Storyfest CEO Andrea Lewis said the focus of their triennial funding is developing an annual partnership with HOTA – Home of the Arts.

“Basically we will host a monthly activation that engages with creatives, specific within the writing community,” she said.

“Workshops will be conducted in collaboration with Inside Voice and every quarter, an author reading or presentation will take place.”

“We will also develop Storyfest on the Road, which puts authors into a van for pop up author workshops,” Andrea said.

HOTA CEO Criena Gehrke is excited about the partnership and the focus on literature.

Creating opportunities and supporting creatives in a real way, across all artforms is at the very heart of who we are. We’re looking forward to working with Storyfest to deliver some great workshops for writers,” she said.

Criena believes partnerships like this one are the way forward for the city’s cultural organisations.

“Working closely with Storyfest, an outstanding organisation that is deeply committed to storytelling, young people and the development and promotion of writers is a perfect match for us.”

It’s been a period of immense growth for Storyfest as it comes into its 26th year. In recent years, the event has extended its programming to reach not just the Gold Coast community but also those throughout Queensland and northern New South Wales.

“Schools travel from as far west as St. George, the Burnett Region, inland from Rockhampton as well as a couple of small indigenous communities in the Northern Territory,” Andrea explained.

“Triennial funding offers security, allows us to try new programming ideas and gives time to build the audience. In recent years, there has been major development of the culture [of the Gold Coast], we now have the opportunity to get literacy included in this space.”

“Our aim for the forthcoming three years is to be a recognised brand throughout the Gold Coast. With our restructure, we’re hoping to reach out to wider philanthropic organisations and obtain State and Federal funding thus allowing us to secure high profile writers to the Gold Coast,” she said.

Storyfest runs 20 – 22 March 2019 but its annual program of events begins 21 January with a creative workshop at HOTA hosted by Inside Voice. The February event is an author presentation by Lynette Noni and the March event is a performance artist workshop by Scott Wings. More at storyfest.com.au.

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