Want to get involved with NYWF in 2021?

Artist applications for the NYWF 2021 are now closed. However, you can still be involved with the festival beyond featuring as an artist – please see below for more info.


Energise, galvanise, organise, jazzercise, in 2021 it’s time to MOBILISE.

The revolution will not be televised but it will be accessible online.

NYWF is back for its 24th festival after a universally bruising year for writers everywhere. 2021 is here and we are collectively dusting ourselves off, picking ourselves back up, and sharpening our pencils, ready to rewrite the systems that failed so many of us.

This year we are returning with a hybrid model; retaining a digital program that will exist alongside the usual festival which takes place across the October long weekend in Newcastle, NSW.

NYWF is asking writers to mobilise their talents and ideas; get their leg warmers, leotards, placards and megaphones out of storage, and join us for a joyful and constructive 2021.

We’re looking for young writers or artists who are interested in becoming part of the NYWF 2021 family. We’re searching for the usual and unusual suspects. Maybe you’re writing a novel; maybe you write the jokes inside bonbons; we don’t mind. Whether you’re a journalist, novelist, poet, podcaster, blogger, content maker, lyricist, comedian or even a combination of these and other mediums, it’s time to flex those application-writing muscles!

Our 2021 theme is MOBILISE, asking writers to respond with vitality and vigour to the challenge of imagining a better world; and to make the most of the brief time we’re given. We have collectively reached a crossroads with a degree of clarity rarely afforded to any generation before. Now it’s up to us to decide the direction we will take.

Let us know all your hopes and dreams for 2021. Tell us what you’ve been up to! Pitch us your event ideas; whether they respond to the theme or not! We’re looking for ideas for workshops, panels, readings, roundtables and performances, or maybe even topics to throw on the table for discussion. And don’t be afraid to get a little wild in your application! 

We can offer an artist fee of $65 per event, $200 for workshops, and the choice between accommodation at the Newcastle YHA or a $40/night accommodation subsidy.

If you are someone who has missed out in previous years due to difficulties in funding travel, we hear you. This year we are strongly encouraging artists from regional and far off places to apply! If selected, we are happy to assist and support you in externally funding travel options, and/or in some cases a travel bursary.


Age limit (i.e. how young is is ‘young?’)

The National Young Writers’ Festival focuses on creating opportunities for writers aged 18 to 35; however, artists and festival-goers of all ages are encouraged to get involved. Having some more experienced writers and industry folk on our panels and in our audiences is an invaluable part of the NYWF experience. If you are a writer between 13 and 17 years of age, you can get involved with our Younger Young Writers’ Program (filter for YYWP in the first filter menu to see only these events).


Application process and timeline

Applications are done online, and generally open in March and close in April. 2021 applications are now open and close May 3.

We welcome applications from writers across all forms and styles, aged 18 – 35, from anywhere in Australia or New Zealand. You can apply as an individual, or as a collective / group. We also accept applications from folks beyond these parameters on a case by case basis. More information on the festival and application process is in our FAQs. If you’d like to discuss your application with us before sending it in, please get in touch.

After submitting your application, you’ll get a confirmation email from us. You’ll also get an email from us around May to say if your application was successful or not, and to outline next steps. If you’re a festival artist, you’ll be given information on your events and put in touch with artists you’re featuring with. You’ll also be connected to one of our directors, who will be your point of contact for all things organising and preparing for the festival. 

In August or September each year, the program is published on our website and often launched in a special event. The actual festival dates are the late September / early October NSW public holiday long weekend.


What to include in your application

Great applications tend to be thorough. We want to know who you are and what you do? What are your passions? What do you love to write and for whom? Who are your influences, what are your aspirations? 

When it comes to your pitches for events, we favour people with a specific vision. It is good to hear that you want to pitch an event about horror fiction, but it’s great to hear that you want to pitch a panel discussion about the gothic horror tradition in Australian literature, where it succeeds, and the extent to which it misappropriates Indigenous storytelling. 

We may not necessarily program every event pitch we love, but it’s also a window into how you think and the sorts of topics on which you might be well equipped to speak.  


Being involved beyond featuring as an artist

To show equal treatment, we don’t accept applications after the closing deadline. 

Our directors receive hundreds of quality applications each year and if yours was not selected, it’s not personal! Often a writer’s application may be strong and interesting but not fit seamlessly with our festival theme, or we may have a surplus of excellent applications for the number of positions our budget allows. Each year applications are selected based on a number of things; on the experience and voice of the writers, on the quality of their event pitches, and the strength of their ideas. It’s a complicated balancing act, and please know that we read and appreciate each and every one.

If you miss the deadline or your application was not chosen, we’d love you to apply next year, and of course to get involved in events! We always include workshops and other participatory sessions in our festival program. NYWF audience members are predominantly writers themselves.

We have a strong team of volunteers who keep the festival running each year. 

Our core team of directors, producers and other arts geniuses is regularly changing – we have limited-time stints so that the opportunity to work on NYWF is spread widely. 

We partner and work with other organisations in the arts, media, education, and more! Would you like to support us or collaborate with us?

Contact us to find out more about volunteering, becoming a team member, or partnering with us.