Arts & Culture

Ailsa Piper: mentor for the Open Writers + Illustrators Residential Retreat. Image: contributed.

Write. Retreat. Restart.

Byron Writers Festival announces new Restart Residential Retreats.

Applications are now open for Byron Writers Festival’s exciting new Restart Residential Retreats. The Restart program is funded by Create NSW, who have granted Byron Writers Festival $185,000 to be dispersed to NSW writers, illustrators and creatives. This grant will be disbursed in residencies as well as free workshops for NSW writers and illustrators of all description.
‘The arts community has been hit hard by the Covid pandemic,’ said Byron Writers Festival Director, Edwina Johnson. ‘Our Restart program is a way to offer a broad-reaching rescue package that will help create new works and valuable professional experiences.’
The Restart program will begin with two residential retreats for NSW writers and illustrators, mentored by some of Australia’s most acclaimed writers. Mentor for the Open Writers + Illustrators Residential Retreat, Ailsa Piper, said of the Restart program, ‘Such a wonderful opportunity! Create NSW and Byron Writers Festival are putting words into action with these initiatives. No retreating from the challenges of Covid or the needs of creators – they are offering genuine assistance and practical support of the best kind – time and space to make. Precious gifts. I’ll be working with them to make the Restart retreat nurturing, challenging, productive, rigorous and restorative. Oh, and did I mention fun?’
The competitive application process is available on the Byron Writers Festival website at The program is overseen by experienced publishing industry professionals drawn from across the state. There will be a focus on First Nations writers and illustrators and artists of varied abilities, including artists with disabilities. 
Nor are our young writers and illustrators forgotten, with two writers-in-residence initiatives planned for local public schools. Award winning illustrator-writer Dub Leffler, and writer-singer Nardi Simpson, are both on board. Leffler said of his involvement: ‘Byron Writers Festival Restart extends the great work in schools done by the Byron Writers Festival StoryBoard program. Getting to work with kids over a whole term will be so rewarding. Restart supports lasting community involvement with storytelling and I can’t wait to get started.’
Indeed, funding body Create NSW are keen for this stimulus package to start as soon as possible, so Byron Writers Festival are working overtime to design and roll out more exciting workshops for their Restart Program. Watch this space for new announcements.
Byron Bay Writers Festival Open Writers and Illustrators Residential Retreats
Applications open Monday 1 March 2021
Applications close 5.00pm Friday 19 March 2021
For Information and applications visit

Byron Writers Festival is Australia’s favourite regional meeting place of storytelling and ideas. As one of the country’s great creative hubs, we curate and develop programs that create shared moments of human connection for thousands of people annually. 

Held on the land of the Arakwal Bumberbin People of the Byron Shire we pay respect to the traditional owners of this land and acknowledge them as the original storytellers of this region.

For a full listing of year-round events, workshops and opportunities head to our What’s On page.

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Dub Leffler: writer-in-residence initiative for local public schools. Image: Contributed.