Story Arts Festival Ipswich is a mammoth event organised by the Ipswich District Teacher-Librarian network, headed by Jenny Stubbs. This year there were 44 presenters spread over the 285 School sessions scheduled, 13 events for families out of school hours, and three days of 32 intensive workshops for the adult program.
It included a magic show, 3 theatre groups (That Theatre Company did at least 14 performances of Eric Vale Epic Fail that week), 2 children’s parties, an ongoing exhibition of Terry Denton’s artwork for the Many-Storey Treehouse books, complete with colourful treehouses made by local schools, and Andy, Terry and Jill from the books live on stage for the first time ever.
Residents would have noticed hundreds of primary school children filing down the streets of Ipswich for the week of 7-11 September. They were heading to venues dotted around the town centre to hear authors and illustrators inform, entertain, and at times amaze them. 195 sessions were scheduled in Ipswich, the following week 72 in Marburg, and 18 in Esk (a small number didn’t happen, but it was still phenomenal).
Presenters worked hard, doing 3 sessions per day from 27 to 327 children in each session. Volunteers helping them included staff from public and school libraries, student teachers, up-coming writers and lovers of children’s literature, who all got a huge amount out of watching the remarkable art of these presenters. We also got to chat with them over lunch.
In the evening all of the events for families were free, except for the musical Mary Poppins playing at the Ipswich Civic Centre. Not many were booked out, and I’m sure more would have flooded in if Brisbane residents, especially in the south-west, realised how close Ipswich was to their homes, and what an amazing program it was. There was also a book swap – that raised $65 for the Indigenous Literary Foundation, which will be on-going.
Upcoming writers and illustrators, as well as librarians, were the key audience of the Adult Program which ran from Friday to Sunday. Participants wrote and drew side by side with established authors and illustrators in small workshops. Many paid to pitch their current works to editors who either accepted their work or at least gave them useful feedback. There were keynote talks, a dinner with entertainment from some of the presenters, and an hilarious breakfast panel.
Story Arts Festival in Ipswich is held every two years, so will be back in September 2017 – put it in your diary now!
Tyrion Perkins attended Story Arts for the first time in 2015 as both volunteer and participant. She greatly enjoyed contributing and co-ordinating the blog with Yvonne Mes and other members of WriteLinks (Thanks to Sam Sochacka for blog set up and encouragement). Tyrion is working on her own books and hopes to be presenting them at a future Story Arts Festival. https://www.facebook.com/TyrionPerkinsAuthor