Sydney Writers’ Festival cancelled for 2020

Sydney Writers’ Festival has been cancelled for 2020 due to advice surrounding the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19).

The announcement:


Today we have made the inevitable but nonetheless devastating decision to cancel this year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival, which was scheduled to run from 27 April to 3 May.

In light of current public health advice regarding the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), and non-essential public gatherings of over 500 people, it is impossible and inadvisable to proceed with the Festival.

“This is an unprecedented, deeply upsetting and challenging time for everyone, but the health and safety of writers, audiences, staff, publishers, volunteers and our community must come first,” said Artistic Director Michaela McGuire.

“This program is now a time capsule, representing one day mid last week when 437 writers from 14 countries were still appearing across 346 events,” said McGuire.

Our Primary and Secondary Schools Days, from 4 to 7 May, as well as Student Sessions on 29 April are also cancelled.

“We are very proud of the incredible local and international line-up that over 8,000 NSW primary and high school students were to be introduced to and inspired by,” said Head of Children’s & YA Programs Amelia Lush.

We recognise that the cancellation of this year’s Festival will have a significant impact on the literary community, and especially on writers whose work was to be featured for the first time in this program. We urge our audiences to still look to the work of the writers in this program and support their local booksellers in what is sure to be a challenging year.

We’ll be using our digital and podcast channels in the coming weeks and months to highlight, support and celebrate the work of the writers in this year’s program.

Chief Executive of Sydney Writers’ Festival Chrissy Sharp said, “I want to sincerely thank all our generous supporters and patrons, and venue and program partners, for their enthusiastic backing of this year’s program. We are facing an extraordinarily challenging moment in the 23-year history of the Festival, and more difficult times ahead without box office revenue, but Sydney Writers’ Festival will return in 2021.

On the cancellation of the 2020 Festival, Chair of Sydney Writers’ Festival board Mark Scott said, “I know we will all want to share with Chrissy, Michaela and the entire team, our devastation for their loss in all of this: a masterful program, wonderfully planned and prepared, but never to be finally realised. It is a tragedy – at a time of many tragedies and what will be much sadness.

“It may be lost in all the terrible news, but the shutting down of entertainment venues, festivals, concerts, theatrical productions and the like will have an appalling impact on the creative industries in this country. Sadly, more than 400 writers share in this loss without this year’s Festival.”

Customers who purchased tickets for the Festival which was scheduled to run from 27 April – 3 May, and the sold-out Patti Smith and Paul Kelly event at Sydney Town Hall on 8 April will be contacted for refunds shortly.

Source: Sydney Writers’ Festival media release


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