Writers festival shock: directors job chopped
DESPITE this year’s event being hailed by many as “one of the best ever”, Candida Baker will not be directing the next Byron Bay Writers’ Festival.
The news was delivered by festival chairperson Chris Hanley to a shocked crowd of festival volunteers, who had gathered in Byron Bay last Friday night for a post-festival celebration.
Speaking to the Byron News on Monday, Mr Hanley said the job of festival director and manager of the Northern Rivers Writers’ Centre, which Ms Baker had filled for the past year, was too much for one person.
“Several of the past directors have been telling the management committee that doing both jobs was a gigantic undertaking,” he said.
“So the committee has taken this on board and we have decided to split the roles.
“This year’s festival featured 200 events and was by far the biggest yet in terms of events and numbers of festival-goers.
“The committee will now find someone to manage the writers’ centre as well as a talented person to run the festival.
“The position of festival director has been made redundant and the job of running the next festival will be put out to tender.”
Mr Hanley said the committee was happy with its decision and so were festival sponsors.
He said it was a positive step in ensuring the festival’s long-term viability.
“Candy worked incredibly hard to deliver what many believe was the best ever writers’ festival,” Mr Hanley said.
Ms Baker said she was thrilled with her first festival and had been absolutely overwhelmed by the positive response. “For me you couldn’t top it, but it was an incredible amount of work and for the past few weeks I have not been well and have been on antibiotics,” she said.
“I’m taking a break to recover and also I have to deliver a book by the end of the month, with another one coming out in October, and I’m writing my next novel.”
Ms Baker said she had spoken to the management committee about splitting the roles of festival and centre directors and “it was the sensible thing to do”.