Since it was founded over 21 years ago, the National Young Writers’ Festival has been a volunteer-run, community-driven organisation. We help early-career arts workers gain industry experience by giving them opportunities to work on a voluntary basis to curate and produce a free festival for young and emerging writers. The government funding that we receive is used to pay participating writers and provide travel bursaries for our volunteer staff, and cover production costs – this means that our annual festival has remained free to attend for more than two decades.
We recognise the structural problems in Australia’s arts industry, where unpaid internships are the norm and average salaries are low. We also recognise that asking people to volunteer their time in exchange for vital experience may exclude a range of talented individuals from gaining the experience that we long to provide.
We are working to change this within the National Young Writers’ Festival. We believe in fairness within the industry, support for writers, and more funding for literature which is one of the lowest-funded art forms in the country. Our board is exploring options that could see us create a new model of support for festival staff within the next two years.
We value everyone who continues to make the National Young Writers’ Festival possible – from the volunteer staff and board members to the hundreds of writers to participate in our annual festival, building a strong, vibrant NYWF community which has lasting impact. Our festival has been the launch-pad for hundreds of careers and friendships. It will remain true to its values as a community-driven, grass-roots, experimental festival that celebrates and supports young and emerging writers of all kinds.
If you would like more information on ways you can support the NYWF or advocate for change, contact the NYWF board here ( chair [at] youngwritersfestival.org ).