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Writers Festival A Huge Success

Media Release:10 September 2008

The Press Christchurch Writers’ Festival

4 – 7 September 2008

Writers Festival A Huge Success

If ticket sales are anything to go by then The Press Christchurch Writers’ Festival 2008 was the most successful literary event ever held in the South Island with 9 sold out shows, from a total of 39 ticketed sessions. With an additional 15 free entry events, 10,702 people attended the festival (cf. 4,621 in 2006 – an increase of 132%). The box office takings were 87% higher than in 2006, with 6,337 people attending the Festival proper in the Town Hall (cf 2,498 in 2006 – an increase of 154%) plus 1,317 school students attending the Read Aloud programme at the Ngaio Marsh and the Young Writers’ Day at the Hagley Community College (cf 1,107 in 2006 – an increase of 19%), with figures estimated for Te Tai Tamariki’s Pirates exhibition at Canterbury Museum and Alan Loney’s Poet & Printer exhibition at the Christchurch Art Gallery as these events are still running.

The Festival Programmers Ruth Todd and Morrin Rout say this response is both extraordinary and gratifying. “This shows the audience in Christchurch are interested and wanting to engage with the huge variety of topics included in this year’s festival,” says Festival Programmer Morrin Rout.

Rout believes that this years’ line-up of international authors was one of the reasons so many readers were anxious to secure seats. “The calibre of international writers from Middle-East correspondent Robert Fisk, through Chinese/UK researcher, Xinran to Canadian psychiatrist Dr Norman Doidge offered people the opportunity to listen and ask questions first-hand from extraordinary minds working in today’s world. This coupled with our most popular and controversial New Zealand writers including Lloyd Jones and Steve Braunias was a programme that simply had something for everyone”

Festival Manager Guy Boyce says this year’s Festival was also much broader in scope. “We set out to increase the Festival audience by offering a wider range of events, and the public responded enthusiastically to our initiatives. Events like The Age of the Warrior with Robert Fisk, and An Hour with Xinran along with Poetry Idol and The Insider’s Guide to Songwriting, appealed to all ages and we had people ranging in age from 8 to 84 attending sessions.”

The next Festival will be held in September 2010, and already the programmers have a wish-list of international writers up their sleeves.


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