The Sydney Writers’ Festival (SWF) has announced that Jemma Birrell has been appointed as the new artistic director of the festival.
SWF said in a statement that Birrell will begin in the role in late September and will relocate to Sydney from Paris in early October. Birrell started her career as a publishing assistant at Allen & Unwin before moving to Paris in 2004. She worked for French publishers before joining Shakespeare and Company bookstore in 2005 as events director. During her time with the bookstore she co-directed the store’s biennial literary festival FestivalandCo.
Birrell replaces Chip Rolley, who finished in the role in August to take up the role of editor of the ABC’s The Drum
SWF chair Deena Shiff said in the same statement that the festival is ‘thrilled to have lured Jemma back home from Paris’. ‘Her excitement and energy are infectious and we believe that she’ll bring a fresh vision to the festival program,’ said Shiff.
Birrell said as artistic director she ‘hope[s] to inspire people with events that are both challenging and entertaining, feeding audience’s imaginations and teaching us new things about the world and ourselves’. ‘Literature is a living, vibrant force: I want to celebrate the exuberance of writing in all of its diverse forms,’ she said.
As previously reported by Bookseller+Publisher
, new directors have been appointed for the Brisbane Writers Festival (BWF) and the Melbourne Writers Festival (MWF) this year. Kate Eltham will join BWF after this year’s festival
, and Lisa Dempster will take over the directorship of MWF in October