Tackling contemporary events from a feminist standpoint since its creation in 2016, the Feminist Writers Festival has announced its closure, citing a lack of resources and funding as the primary reason for the decision.
‘We are disappointed to announce that we are making the incredibly sad but necessary decision to close Feminist Writers Festival (FWF). Having made it through “COVID year” and delivering a virtual festival in 2020, this feels particularly tragic. But the resourcing required to push through an (ongoing) precarious situation is too much,’ a statement from the Feminist Writers Festival read.
‘With decreasing arts funding, and increasingly, the allocation of money going to fewer, larger organisations, we see little consideration of the important role that smaller organisations play in bringing diversity and richness to a cultural field,’ the statement added.
The FWF is the second writers’ festival to announce its closure this month, with Wollongong Writers Festival also announcing its closure due to funding constraints.
‘We know we are not alone in the pain of having to make a decision like this,’ Wollongong Writers Festival said in a statement on 2 March.
‘Many of our peers in the literary community have had their funding applications denied in recent years. There is also the ongoing pressure on arts organisations under COVID-19. We offer our solidarity to those organisations whose futures are uncertain or untenable as a result,’ the festival’s statement noted.
A mainly volunteer-run organisation administered by a team of women and nonbinary arts administrators, the Feminist Writers Festival staged some 56 events in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Geelong, Lismore, Melbourne and Sydney over the five years it operated.
The most recent festival, delivered completely online in 2020, addressed Australia’s culture of violence, the politics of health, intersections of the law, and ecofeminism, and featured contemporary thinkers such as activist Nicole Lee, author Anna Spargo-Ryan, activist Jax Jacki Brown, and writer and activist Zoya Patel.
Some sad news from the team at FWF. 💔
Very disappointed to announce that we’ve made the incredibly sad but necessary decision to close Feminist Writers Festival. Having made it through ‘COVID year’ and delivering a virtual festival in 2020, this feels particularly tragic. 1/6 pic.twitter.com/N41fNM4Euo
— Feminist Writers Festival (@FemWritersFest) March 28, 2021
The FWF acknowledged the dedication of their small but loyal team, saying: ‘While we have always paid our speakers and writers, we have primarily been a volunteer-run organisation. There’s only so far the hours of already overworked women can stretch and we cannot in good faith perpetuate the unpaid labour of women and nonbinary arts administrators in this arena.’
An advocate for feminist causes, the festival created space for 70 feminist writers and thinkers to share their ideas and stories over its five years of operation, with many in the writing and publishing community mourning the festival’s loss.
Farewell — with nothing but a sense of respect, admiration and loss. Thank you for all the voices you have platformed on your work, the depth of your commitment to fostering feminisms and the dialogues between them and envisaging a more just world…
— Peril magazine (@PerilMag) March 29, 2021
In its farewell statement, the FWF also thanked the community who grew up around the festival in the last five years: ‘Our event-goers, readers, and especially the feminist speakers, writers, and thinkers who have participated in our events and publishing and have informed and raged, and celebrated feminist culture.
‘From ushers, to comms mavens to board members – who have kept FWF going. Thanks also go to our longtime partners Queen Victoria Women’s Centre and Listen Up podcasting, as well as the many publishers we have worked with, and countless other feminist and arts organisations who have partnered with us, or amplified our messages.’
Read the full statement on the Feminist Writers Festival website.