Job Details


May 25, 2022




> $100,000

Closing Date

Jun 15, 2022

Sydney Writers' Festival

Artistic Director

Role Title:  Artistic Director

Reports To:  Chief Executive Officer

Direct Reports:  Program Manager, Head of Children’s & YA Programs      

Salary Range:  Competitive salary based on experience >$100k per annum

Employment Term:  3-year full-time contract 



About Sydney Writers’ Festival


Sydney Writers’ Festival brings together a broad and engaged community around the sharing of books, writing and ideas.


Since our first Festival in 1997, Sydney Writers’ Festival has become one of the world’s leading and most beloved literary organisations. 


In the company of the world’s best novelists, poets, journalists, public intellectuals, economists, politicians, artists, and scientists, we’ve discussed some of the most pressing issues of our times. We’ve celebrated prize-winning authors, long-awaited novels from writers at the height of their careers and introduced debut authors to eager and enthusiastic new audiences.


Readers and writers have exchanged thoughts and opinions, perspectives and philosophies, creating a powerful community based on radical dialogue and respectful debate. The heartbeat of questioning that beats underneath the Festival is powerful and enlivens Australia’s democratic tradition. 



About this role


The Artistic Director leads the organisation’s artistic, creative, and curatorial vision and is responsible for researching, developing, producing and delivering the year-round artistic program within approved budgets and timeframes. 


The Artistic Director is committed to literature, writing and ideas, and to creating powerful experiences for our audiences. The successful candidate will demonstrate global thinking, the ability to bring together digital and in-person events, and has the commercial acumen to grow the Festival’s reach and impact.


The Artistic Director works collaboratively and innovatively to support the organisation’s values, which include accessibility, inclusion and diversity. The Artistic Director will, through their programming, continue to develop and maintain the Festival’s relationships with a multitude of stakeholders that includes, but is not limited to, audiences, writers, publishers, and other literary sector peers, funders, and donors. 


The Artistic Director reports directly to the Chief Executive Officer but works closely with the Board of Directors. It is expected that this executive position will actively work to sustain and cultivate the Festival’s strong financial position and to ensure that Sydney Writers’ Festival continues to be a positive, respectful, creative and inclusive place to work for permanent and seasonal staff as well as the many valued volunteers who devote their time to the Festival each year. 


The Artistic Director also manages the programming team. 


This position is based in Sydney. 


Key responsibilities:  


Creative vision for program and organisation 


·       Develop and present an annual Festival program that showcases emerging and established writers and thinkers who are influencing contemporary conversations through their writing and ideas

·       Identify program opportunities and develop a yearly program of the highest quality, in keeping with the aims and objectives of Sydney Writers’ Festival 

·       Research, identify and secure the world’s highest profile and highest calibre writers and thinkers

·       Develop and curate a large-scale program of events that recognises and reflects the interests of emerging and established audiences balanced with developing potential new audiences 

·       Curate a Festival program that is consistent with Sydney Writers’ Festivals strategic goals and revenue targets, delivered on time and within approved budget parameters

·       Manage the effective operations of the programming team and drive productive discussion of program content with staff, Board and other stakeholders


Year-round programming and delivery 


·       In collaboration with the programming team, develop and present annual programming strategies, including education programs, that guide and inform year-round programming opportunities 

·       Broker touring opportunities for visiting international authors with other arts organisations and festivals, applying the highest level of commercial acumen

·       Assist the programming team to manage venue negotiations, bookings, scheduling and contracting processes

·       Work collaboratively with the CEO and Head of Development to deliver partnership opportunities

·       Oversee programming systems and processes that include research, invitations, negotiations, contracting and database processes, artist liaison, travel and accommodation 

·       In collaboration with the CEO, manage post-Festival analysis and reporting requirements for Board, funders and partners


Strategic leadership 

·       In collaboration with the CEO and Board of Directors, develop strategic business plans and support the implementation and delivery of these plans within the organisation

·       Be the spokesperson for the Festival; representing the Festival nationally and internationally

·       In collaboration with the CEO, nurture and build a collaborative, positive, supportive, and performance-driven culture within the organisation

·       Attend and report in Board meetings and relevant committees and sub-committees


Communication, business development and stakeholder management 

·       In collaboration with the CEO and Head of Marketing & Digital, contribute to the Festival’s brand positioning

·       Take a leading role in Sydney Writers’ Festival public-facing communications including funding applications, eNewsletters and social media channels

·       Identify, develop and manage program and cultural partnerships that extend the Festival’s reach and impact

·       Work with the CEO, Head of Marketing & Digital and Media Manager to develop and deliver successful audience engagement strategies


Relationship management with literary and publishing communities 


·       Develop and maintain strong relationships with publishers, authors, agents and booksellers, and manage commercial negotiations

·       Keep abreast of current industry trends at both a national and international level to ensure Sydney Writers’ Festival remains to be a leading cultural organisation locally, nationally and internationally


Selection criteria


·       Demonstrated experience curating and delivering a large-scale program of contemporary events (both digital and in-person) that inspires engagement, within a Festival context and/or cultural organisation

·       Demonstrated experience and knowledge of literature and publishing markets in Australia and overseas

·       Demonstrated track record of successfully meeting box office targets and associated organisational KPI’s and delivering a large volume of events on time and within established budget parameters

·       Outstanding interpersonal skills, exceptional communicator, negotiator and listener with the proven ability to build rapport with a wide range of internal and external stakeholders, including government, and national and international partners

·       Exceptional organisational and administration skills with an energetic, collaborative, flexible and proactive approach to problem solving and information sharing, reflecting a commitment to organisational values and objectives 

·       Proven track record of developing productive and professional relationships with a wide range of stakeholders including authors, publishers, agents, booksellers, Government agencies, corporate partners, and donors. 


How to apply 


Your application should include the below items. 



Please submit a curriculum vitae that includes: 

·       Full name, residential address, confidential email address, telephone number  

·       Positions held, reporting lines, and the scope of responsibilities and key achievements 

·       Details of formal education and other training qualifications 

·       Other relevant information, such as involvement or representation in professional and community activities such as speaking engagements, conference panels, publications and board memberships. 


A statement of no more than two pages that outlines:

·       your motivations for applying for the position

·       how your experience and expertise are relevant to the duties and responsibilities in the position description

·       how your experience will influence and motivate your creative vision, programming and activities at Sydney Writers’ Festival. 


Full contact details of four referees who will be able to attest to your credibility and suitability for the role. Referees will be contacted after prior consultation with the candidate. 



An indication of the earliest date on which you would be available to commence.



Brooke Webb 



T: +61 (2) 9256 4205



For a confidential discussion regarding the role, please email and attention your email to Brooke Webb, CEO at Sydney Writers’ Festival.


This position description describes the broad scope of the role and is not an exhaustive list. It may also change from time to time with due consultation to meet the changing needs of the business.


Applications must be submitted by 5pm AEST on Wednesday 1st June 2022.