How a festival responded to election fever (sausage sizzle included)

Sydney Writers' Festival nimbly navigates election coverage, explains Artistic Director Michael Williams.

This year, the Federal election (Saturday 21 May) falls squarely within the ambit of the Sydney Writers’ Festival (16-22 May). The festival’s Artistic Director, Michael Williams, spoke of hosting one of the country’s biggest literary showcases during a time of political campaigning and of the challenges of logistics-planning to accommodate election night.

‘After the point at which our dates were well and truly decided upon and guests had been invited, it became increasingly clear that there was a better than average chance that the election would land around festival timing. And so we just watched nervously waiting for an announcement. As each week passed, the odds increased, that not only were we going to have to continue with the election campaign while we were selling tickets, but that there was a danger that it would land on festival Saturday,’ Williams explained.

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Thuy On is Reviews Editor of ArtsHub and an arts journalist, critic and poet who’s written for a range of publications including The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, Sydney Review of Books, The Australian, The Age/SMH and Australian Book Review. She's the outgoing books editor of The Big issue. Her first book, a collection of poetry called Turbulence, came out in 2020 and was published by University of Western Australia Press (UWAP). Her next collection, Decadence, was published in July 2022, also by UWAP. Twitter: @thuy_on