Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Today we have made the inevitable but nonetheless devastating decision to cancel this year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival, which was scheduled to run from 27 April to 3 May.

In light of current public health advice regarding the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), and non-essential public gatherings of more than 500 people, it is impossible and inadvisable to proceed with the 2020 Festival.

Our Primary and Secondary Schools Days, from 4 to 7 May, as well as Student Sessions on 29 April are also cancelled.

This is an unprecedented, deeply upsetting and challenging time for everyone, but the health and safety of authors, audiences, staff, publishers, volunteers and our community must come first.

We recognise that the cancellation of this year’s Festival will have a significant impact on the literary community, and especially on writers whose work was to be featured for the first time in this program. We urge you – our audience and community – to support these authors and your local booksellers in what is sure to be a challenging year.

The 2020 Festival is now a time capsule, representing a program of 437 writers from 14 countries appearing across 346 events. It is also a wide-ranging reading list featuring our world’s most exhilarating, honest, clever, ambitious, joyful and disquieting writers.

Look to the Festival’s digital and podcast channels in the coming weeks and months as we highlight, support and celebrate the work of the writers in this year’s program.

We are facing an extraordinarily challenging moment in the 23-year history of the Festival. And without box office revenue, there will be more difficult times ahead. But Sydney Writers’ Festival will return in 2021.

Customers who purchased tickets for the 2020 Sydney Writers’ Festival, our schools programs, and our event with Patti Smith and Paul Kelly at Sydney Town Hall on 8 April will be contacted for reimbursement.

We are very grateful for the loyalty and understanding of the Sydney Writers’ Festival community. We wish you well during this time and look forward to seeing you at the 2021 Festival.

Michaela McGuire, Artistic Director
Chrissy Sharp, CEO

Statement date: 16 March