This year’s Byron Bay Writers Festival definitely will go ahead, but its long-term future is still in doubt.

Member for Ballina Don Page raised the issue in State Parliament this week and said: “Whilst I have been given an assurance from the Minister’s office that funding for this year’s festival is secure, I am concerned about funding in future years.

The Northern Rivers Writers Centre, who host the Byron Bay Writers Festival, rely heavily on the funding they receive from the State Government to run the annual event.

“The festival is one of the most significant events on the Byron Bay calendar, attracting more visitors than either the Brisbane or the Melbourne Writers festivals.

“It is the only significant literary festival that celebrates Australian writing and writers, and doesn’t predominantly feature international writers. 

“It provides regional audiences with a world-class forum for discussion and ideas.”

Mr Page said he found it hard to believe that the State Government was considering a future cut to funding for such a significant festival. 

“If the funding is cut the festival will be in danger of being axed,” he said.

“The NRWC is a non-profit organisation that plays a vital role in providing support and mentoring for emerging writers.

“Recently, a review of the NSW Cultural Grants Program was undertaken.

“The subsequent report stated that ‘funding for regional Writers Centres be reviewed and that better outcomes may be achieved by addressing the needs of regional writers online’.

“The suggestion by the review that the services currently provided by the NRWC could be better provided by an online service is ludicrous and insulting to everyone involved in the NRWC.

“There is a wealth of talent and creativity in the Northern Rivers region. It must be nurtured and developed. 

“There is such a wonderful nursery in the area to do just that, but it requires some government support.

“Indeed, it is the responsibility of government to support cultural development. 

“I call on the Minister for the Arts to ensure that sanity prevails and the $55,000 grant is maintained in the future. 

“The viability of this popular and worthwhile Writers Centre along with the annual Byron Bay Writers Festival is at stake.”