Helen Macpherson Smith Trust

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Case Study: Melbourne Writers Festival

ProjectMulticultural Literary Programming Initiative



ProgramPast Programs | Arts and Culture

This grant was approved under our previous grants policy (Jan 2014 – March 2017)
Building organisational capacity Pioneer a new approach to culturally diverse collaborative work and shared capacity-building in literature sector; Develop new audiences
Extending opportunity Identify and reduce barriers to attendance/participation by CALD communities
Collaboration and partnership Emerging Writers Festival, Wheeler Centre resident organisations, local councils and libraries, other literary, arts organisations and CALD community organisations


A strategic shared initiative enables greater cultural diversity at literature events

A collaborative capacity-building pilot, this joint initiative between Melbourne Writers Festival and the Emerging Writers Festival aims to develop broader cultural diversity in strategic programming, audience and participant development.

Image Author Monique Toohey at the MWF event 'Muslim Feminism' © MWF/Victoria University

This project was a first for the literature sector in Victoria, responding to research findings which highlighted the lack of cultural and linguistic diversity amongst audiences, participating Australian writers and works explored at literary festivals and events.

  • In a newly created role, a Multicultural Program Coordinator was appointed to work with both Melbourne Writers Festival (MWF) and the Emerging Writers Festival (EWF), maximising impact at a critical point in each organisation’s annual programming cycle.
  • The aim was to initiate and develop programming which showcases the work of Australian writers from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, and to increase the access of CALD audiences to reading, writing and literary programming.
  • New partnerships were developed with community groups including community, arts and literature organisations, and local councils to deliver targeted promotion and engagement activities across both EWF and MWF festivals in 2016.
  • A suite of resources to support diversity and accessibility strategies was developed for shared use and development in 2017 and beyond by the two organisations.
  • Outcomes and recommendations are expected to contribute to broader accessibility initiatives within both organisations and others resident at The Wheeler Centre.


"We've developed new ongoing partnerships and successfully delivered a series of public programs which increase access by culturally diverse audiences to literary events through this initiative." Michael Webster, Chair, Melbourne Writers Festival