Ms Runcie said she looked forward to helming what she described as “one of the most impressive writers festivals in the country” when it returns in May 2021. “Brisbane has an exciting arts and cultural scene; I look forward to expanding Brisbane Writers Festival to encompass storytelling in all its variations, traditions and connections,” she said.
“Queensland has produced many extraordinary writers and inspired many great Australian stories and Brisbane Writers Festival has the opportunity to celebrate that literary legacy,” said Ms Runcie.
Ms Runcie has more than 20 years’ experience in arts administration, communications, strategy and stakeholder management across creative, not-for-profit and government sectors, most recently as strategy and policy manager at Australian Publishers Association.
She flagged her first task would be to open a digital dialogue with Brisbane residents to better reflect and respond to their expectations. “I want to know what the people of Brisbane want from their Writers Festival. I want to reflect the diversity of our Brisbane audiences through the diversity of the writers we present,” she expanded.
“Who are the writers and what are the ideas that capture the imagination, and idealism, of the people of Brisbane? What other worlds do we want to see? What better worlds do we want to dream?”
It is the first stage of an ongoing conversation Ms Runcie hopes to spark with the city’s residents and visitors. “Books and writing have an important function in public dialogue so I aim to have the Festival engage with and inspire productive conversation among writers, readers, visitors and residents,” said Ms Runcie.
Brisbane Writers Festival Board Chair Fiona Taylor congratulated Ms Runcie on her appointment and said she brought optimism and innovation to the Festival in 2021 and beyond.
“Sarah comes to Brisbane Writers Festival with fresh eyes and ears and a swag of impressive strategies and ideas to ensure its success will continue to grow,” said Ms Taylor. “Particularly, she is committed to further developing and expanding the digital programs and creative opportunities that evolved from our response to COVID-19 shutdowns.”
Brisbane Writers Festival continues to present international and Australian artists online throughout 2020 while programming a stellar line-up for its re-scheduled Festival in 2021. Michaela Kalowski hosts an “In Conversation” series with international fiction and non-fiction authors who reflect and capture this moment of change, resilience and a world navigating the extremes of upheaval and trauma.
In the first week of September, Brisbane Writers Festival will showcase Australian authors and artists collaborating under the theme of Room to Dream, highlighting the awe, wonder, resilience and connection envisioned for a new world. For more information, visit: www.bwf.org.au for details.
Image: Sarah Runcie – courtesy of Brisbane Writers Festival