Words on the Waves Chair’s Report 2022

This is an edited version of the Chair’s Report delivered by Jacqui Barton at the Words on the Waves AGM, held 8 August 2022. 

Our second year of Words on the Waves Writers Festival once again averted the grips of the COVID pandemic that most festivals have faced these past two years. Words on the Waves treated our audiences with some of Australia’s leading writers and thinkers from all corners of the country. One of the many standout moments for me was Thomas Mayor, who brought us the Uluru Statement from the Heart to our land and our hearts, so many emotions in that room!

This year saw dramatic changes to our board with founder Benny Agius stepping down from chair due to heavy work commitments, and for me trying to step into huge glossy shoes, challenging me in more ways than one. The vice chair has been a difficult role to fill with Lisa Barnes joining the team briefly and unfortunately deciding to take on some further studies making it difficult for her to continue with board responsibilities. We were lucky to have her for the short time we did, her board experience was very valuable.

Sue Beveridge has come on board as vice-chair a passionate educator, Sue comes with experience in achieving business outcomes, fostering effective working relationships, and facilitating opportunities.

Our much-loved Treasurer Greg Coleman also decided to step away from board responsibilities, he has a flourishing financial business that he’s growing, lucky for us Greg will continue to look after our accounts.

Cathy Williamson is our latest recruit and has come on board as our new Treasurer who will be working closely with Greg to hit the ground running. Cathy is a Legal Professional with over a decade of board-level experience with particular expertise in the advisory, banking, not-for-profit, and financial services industries.

The Board is looking to grow and will have seven board members; this will ensure that we have plenty of representation, support and talent. The executive committee will be dissolved.

I’d like to welcome Lyndal Keevers to the board, we are looking for two new members so if you are interested in applying, please get in touch.

Lucky for us the talented Angela Bennetts decided to accept the role of Festival Director. Angela has been the creative lead for the festival, and managed to bring us an exciting and diverse programme, ensured sound management of events and delivered all of the goals set, along with a talented and hard-working committee who brought along their talent and strengths. 

We have been fortunate to have received grants from Building Better Region Fund (Australian Government) which allowed for the retention of project management staff.

The RISE Fund (Australian Government) and the support of the Central Coast Council activated spaces and communities which assisted in author payment, accommodation etc.

We have recently secured two other grants [Create NSW and ClubGrants].

We once again partnered with the Bouddi Society and held a day event at Wagstaffe. The event once again sold out quickly. The main June long week event offered a diverse, and popular selection of authors and moderators. This year growing to two venues Ocean Beach and Umina Beach surf clubs. We also offered several one-off events, and all events were heavily patronised with most selling out.

Our children’s program had both students and teachers delighted with heart-felt storytelling, the brilliance of illustrators, and the fun of having authors attend their school and the festival. 

We will see some new opportunities in 2023 with the Ripples project, funded by Create NSW [more here].  

Both locals and visitors attended all the events with local coverage from the ABC, local newspapers and radio. There was a great deal of excitement that the event had started and we have been asked many times over to ensure that the festival continues. 

Words on the Waves is a celebration of our place, even though the days were cold we were warmed by the presenters and their passion. Once again, the audiences were totally engaged, Umina Book Shop worked tirelessly to ensure that all books were available.

Looking forward to a successful 2023.

Jacqui Barton

Words on the Waves Chair