From the Director
The If Maitland Indie Writers and Arts Festival was born out of a desire to encourage members of the community to cast aside their fears and feel empowered to tell their stories and share them with the world.
In this modern age of digital disruption, aspiring writers no longer need to feel constrained by the limitations imposed on them when approaching the bigger, traditional publishing companies. Nor do they need to fall prey to the more unscrupulous of the vanity and hybrid publishers who have left so many in the past with garages full of unsold books produced at ridiculously high costs.
We present panels that focus on the importance of getting the fundamentals right, such as editing and well-prepared files. There are panels showing how others have followed a less traditional path and achieved success, or those who have found the right niche with smaller publishers such as Puncher and Wattmann or Larrikin House.
Since the inaugural festival, we have expanded to include a broader range of the arts, recognising there are many approaches to storytelling aside from writing, each as legitimate as the other. These include theatre, film making and the visual arts. In fact, we now include multiple exhibitions, with this year’s festival featuring the work of over two dozen artists and illustrators in our main street shopfront exhibition (with artworks displayed in 27 shopfronts along Maitland’s High Street) and two feature exhibitions at WordXImage Gallery (visual poetics from Chris Mansell) and Raven Art Gallery (featuring the work of published illustrators).
We are proud to be able to say that, with the festival in its fourth year, some of the books being launched at IF Maitland 2023 had their inception at the festival in previous years. This is at the heart of what drove Festival Director and founder, Graham Davidson, when he first conceived the idea of staging a festival devoted to independent publishing and storytelling. He is passionate in his belief that each generation should tell the stories of their lived experiences so that history is recorded by those who have lived it. The clear focus on how to achieve the best results through independent or self-publishing make this festival unique on the broader festival circuit. This enthusiasm has been shared by all the speakers and panelists who have participated in the festival since 2020.
Among the speakers taking part in the fifty plus events of this year’s program we have the likes of comedian and motivational speaker, Ewan Campbell, multi-award winning children’s author, Aleesah Darlison, poets Ellen Shelley and Steve Armstrong while Puncher and Wattman’s Ed Wright and the Book Maven’s Debbie Lee will help to demystify how aspiring authors might best approach a publishing company. Over twenty books will be launched including novels, picture books, graphic novels and poetry.
The kids haven’t been forgotten either, with a family funday in the grounds of Maitland Regional Art Gallery on the first Sunday, including entertainment and games along with children’s writing and drawing workshops.
In recognition that most aspiring writers and creatives struggle to afford many of the other writers’ festivals there is no registration fee. In addition, all panels and book launches are free to attend.
The committee has worked hard to ensure that this year’s IF Maitland Indie Writers and Arts Festival has something for you, whatever your interests. So, please, download a program from our website ( https:ifmaitland.org ), choose the speakers or panels you’d like to see. Maybe you’ll book into one of our workshops, or book yourself tickets for a night at the theatre. Whatever your taste, we’re confident our program will have something for you.
This year’s venues include Studio Amsterdam, Sun Street Studios, Maitland Regional Art Gallery, The Pourhouse Hotel, East Maitland Library and the WordXImage and Raven Art Galleries. We’d like to thank our major sponsors, Maitland City Council, Hunter Writers Centre, Mutual Bank, Rack and Rune Publishing and the Book Maven for making IF Maitland 2023 possible.