With a vision to spark creativity and a love of words in NSW students, Words on the Waves received an Arts and Cultural Funding Program (Round 2) grant to stage Ripples for school students as part of its 2023 festival program. The first and only literary festival on the NSW Central Coast, Words on the Waves successfully doubled its education program with 1,500 students attending the third annual Writers Festival in June 2023.
Image: Samantha Tidy Ripples Program, 2023 Courtesy of Words on the Waves Photo Syl Marie
Supported by Create NSW’s Arts and Cultural Funding Program (ACFP), Words on the Waves literary festival expanded its schools program in 2023 to cater for both primary and secondary students from 15 schools.
The program, named Ripples, explored the theme ‘When Fish Fly: The Power of Possibility’.
Authors including Gary Lonesborough, Samera Kamaleddine, Jeremy Lachlan, Nat Amoore and Samantha Tidy helped spark creativity and a love of words with the young audience.
The funding also allowed the not-for-profit to offer a free Family Fun Day at Everglades Woy Woy, with a full day of storytelling, illustration demonstrations, book launches and more.
“Our mission is to foster a love of reading in the next generation of readers and writers by continuing to grow our schools program Ripples, expand our free family events and run year-round capacity-building workshops,” festival director Angela Bennetts says.
“We want to deliver an immersive annual festival of stories, ideas, and connection, set against the scenic Central Coast, that enriches the cultural landscape of the region. A vibrant and diverse program is essential if we are to become one of Australia’s leading regional literary festivals.”Angela Bennett, Festival Director, Word on the Waves.
The inaugural event was held in June 2021 after a year of planning by a volunteer-led committee. In 2023, more than 3,500 adults attended the six-day festival.
Words on the Waves Chair Jacqui Barton says: “We celebrated by gathering acclaimed writers, thinkers, and change makers who came together in thoughtful debate and dialogue. Conversations that make the unconscious conscious in an irreversible way.”
“This celebration of literature, arts and culture is passionately brought together by our festival organisers and volunteers, and by the support of our sponsors and partners.”
Festival coordinator Mandi McIntosh said the ACFP grant covered most of the costs incurred by the expanded Ripples program, which is roughly 30 per cent of the festival’s total budget. They also successfully received funding for the 2024 festival to add an accessible and low-cost diverse programming stream called “The Dip” in an adjacent parkland.
“The funding was incredibly important in helping us offer the expanded schools program and Family Fun Day to families at no cost. We were able to provide free transport and tickets to disadvantaged schools and give opportunities for the children to meet authors and illustrators who had not presented on the coast before.
“Without the grant we would not have been able to employ someone part-time to coordinate and organise the kids’ program and it would have been a limited offering, reaching fewer young readers and writers.
“We were also able to offer local work opportunities to both student performers and professional presenters and use a second venue on the north of the coast, which proved to be a popular program.”
Ms McIntosh said having applied for a few grants, some successful and some not, they now have a greater understanding of how to meet the criteria in the application and how to better explain their goals.
“Our mission statement is quite clear, and we focus very carefully on the elements we are adding to the program, that the new grant would help cover.
“We’re also better at working out the budget after completing the Ripples funding request. This was initially a major stumbling block as we’re all about books, not spreadsheets.”
The 2024 Words on the Waves Writers Festival will take place from May 29 to June 3, 2024.
Words on the Waves top tips when applying for funding
- Allow plenty of time! It always takes way longer than you think to collate all the material needed.
- Make sure you have an event plan and budget already well underway and plenty of quotes and prices to make sure that your estimates are valid.
- Put a small team together to work on it as you need people who are across your plans, but also people to help with getting quotes, letters of recommendation etc. For us, having two main people lead the application plus two assigned to chase up documentation worked well.
Learn more about Create NSW's arts and cultural funding opportunities