New England Writers Centre

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A creative haven for local authors and illustrators, the team from the New England Writers Centre chat to Focus about the many facets available to artists …

Tell us about what the New England Writers Centre does …

The NEWC supports the creative written and illustrative arts for people in the New England region. It does this by offering a range of workshops, events, and competitions.

Many of our activities are supported by generous grants from the State Government’s arts funding body, Arts NSW, as well as the Federal Government’s Regional Arts Fund.  We also appreciate the support of Arts North West, Armidale Council, UNE, and other local institutions and busineses. We frequently collaborate with other local arts organisations, such as NERAM, the local sub-branch of the Children’s Book Council of NSW, and are partnering with Arts North West and Museums Australia on an exciting project called The Stuff of Tales, featuring local writers and creating stories around local museum collections.

This year, our activities include Deadly Secrets festival for crime writers (June), Sorcery to Spaceships festival for those interested in Speculative Fiction (September) and the popular Writing Hub program that develops story telling skills for writers (last Saturday of every month). A seasonal series of innovative poetry workshops by published poet John Charles Ryan is also on this year (next workshop July 22, at NERAM).

During the year, we are hosting visiting authors such as Tristan Bancks, Pamela Freeman and Ian Irvine, and showcasing local illustrators such as Kate Durack. There’ll also be an opportunity to learn songwriting skills with local writer Helena Pastor and local musician Chris Purcell.

We connect to local schools via our popular program called Authors and Illustrators Live Link, which features talks and mini-workshops, delivered via live-link video conferencing across the region, including to small, remote schools.

We also have a partnership with the Sydney Writers’ Festival to bring this festival, streamed live, into the library in Armidale.

In August in Tamworth the Centre is offering a fantastic self-publishing day, featuring a hands-on workshop and informative panel session with author, journalist and self-publishing expert Steven Lewis. He will be joined by local self-published authors Janene Carey and Ian Wynne for the panel session. This is a program aimed at giving participants the skills to navigate the difficult waters of book production, as well as understanding requirements for online publishing, including Kindle, and the best way to create book promotion on social media.

In October we will be offering The Elevator Pitch, a program of preparatory workshops, an informative panel session and face to face pitching sessions with two major visiting literary agents, Alex Adsett (Alex Adsett Publishing Service) and Brian Cook (The Authors Agency). This program, which provides an opportunity for local authors and illustrators to get their work seen by industry experts, has a capacity of 40 places and will book out quickly.

On Saturday, June 17, the 2017 Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing will be launched during the Deadly Secrets festival. This competition, which is in its fifth year, has launched many aspiring writers, including Emma Viskic (winner of the inaugural Thunderbolt Prize, and profiled in the May issue of FOCUS) and 2016 Thunderbolt Prize fiction winner Maryanne Ross, who along with local author Bronwyn Parry will be present at the launch. Entrants will have until the end of July to submit their entries.

 We have a diverse, creative membership, not only in Armidale, where we’re based, but all over New England. We’re always looking for new members, and invite anyone interested in writing, illustrating and reading to have a look at for details on how to join. We welcome members at all stages of their careers: you certainly don’t have to be a published author to belong! We’re all about developing creative skills, encouraging reading, and giving opportunities to local people, of whatever background or age.

Where is the New England Writers Centre located?

The centre is located at 129 Rusden Street, and is open Monday and Thursday between the hours of 11am and 3pm. Email:

How do people find out what is coming up at the New England Writers Centre?

All details of our events, competitions and other opportunities are shown on the website at You can also follow us on Facebook: where we post regularly.

Tell us about the New England Illustration Prize and its theme this year.

This was established by the NEWC in 2016, to encourage aspiring and established artists and illustrators in the New England region to showcase their artworks. Building on last year’s success, we are hopeful that this year the competition will attract a bigger number of entrants, and that the competition could eventually be opened up to all artists and illustrators living in New South Wales. This year competition entrants are invited to create an illustration inspired by Captain Thunderbolt, the famous bushranger who roamed the New England area in the 19th Century. As with last year, up to 20 finalists in the competition will be invited to take part in an exhibition at Gallery 126, where they will be able to display their original artwork to the public. The competition is now open and entries can be submitted online until via up until 26th June 2017.

Thanks everyone.

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