Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, the Tamar Valley Writers Festival is a festival based within the magnificent Tamar Valley in the member for Rosevears' electorate, but with contributors from all over. It was held this past weekend at the Aspect Tamar Valley Resort in Grindelwald. This biennial three-day event, previously known as the Festival of Golden Words, has gained a reputation for attracting high-profile writers and presenters from across Australia.
The event secured $180 000-worth of funding from Events Tasmania to grow the festival up to 2022. The West Tamar Council also supported the festival with a $20 000 grant. The festival is for readers, writers, friends, family and tourists wishing to participate in local activities and be part of the community event. Organised entirely by a dedicated team of volunteers led by the amazing Mary Machen, the Tamar Valley Writers Festival offered master classes, panel discussions and Q&As covering all genres of writing around the theme 'Tasmania on the global page'.
Over 60 nationally and internationally recognised authors featured in the festival line‑up including New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman; Melbourne barrister and human rights advocate Julian Burnside AO QC; award-winning actor Glynn Nicholas; Launceston's own Logie award-winning scriptwriter and producer Vicki Madden; one of the world's best known parent educators, Steve Biddulph; and multiple ARIA award-winning singer-songwriter Monique Brumby.
The festival program was designed to attract people with a range of interests - everything from crime, sport, history, genealogy and romance, through to a session intriguingly entitled 'The Bard & the Bottle', and speed dating for book clubs to engage with avid readers. The festival's organising committee were particularly proud of its free schools program for students from middle school to year 12. The schools program was part of the festival's commitment to promote reading, contributing to the literacy of local children and inspiring a passion for books. Over 500 students met authors and illustrators, discovered exciting new literacy voices and were able to have books autographed.
Special events during the festival included an official opening cocktail evening, which featured Longford lad and television personality Neil Kearney as MC, nationally acclaimed comedian and playwright Glynn Nicholas, and singer-songwriter Monique Brumby.
The festival program also included stories and stars at a sunset barbecue and a breakfast event with Launceston-born, ABC TV Landline presenter Pip Courtney, speaking about life and landscape.
This year a new initiative was introduced: Spring into the Tamar - I do not think literally, for the member for Rosevears. This is a marketing campaign developed and driven by five festivals working in collaboration to promote the Tamar Valley region as a travel hotspot. The marketing campaign, designed to bolster visitor numbers to Launceston and the Tamar Valley, received $25 000 in funding through Events Tasmania under the auspices of Tourism Northern Tasmania.
September to November is regarded as shoulder season in Tasmania's tourism industry. Collectively, the five festivals anticipate tipping over the 20 000 attendance figure in 2018. The five festivals in calendar order are Junction Arts Festival, Tamar Valley Writers Festival, the Artentwine Sculpture Biennial, Blooming Tasmania Flower and Garden Festival, and the Farm Gate Festival, which will be held in late November.
In conclusion, Tasmania has a high rate of local publishing output with up to 100 new books released each year. The Tamar Valley Writers Festival provided a wonderful opportunity to feature some of these books and their authors. The festival is recognised as one of Australia's premier regional writers' festivals. It provides economic benefits to the region and places Tasmania - and particularly the Tamar Valley - on the radar for national and international visitors to our state.
I commend the work of the committee and wish them continued success with future festivals.