Festival grant to help produce next generation of writers

A SUBSTANTIAL Federal government grant will see StoryBoard, Byron Writers Festival's free creative writing program, introduced to over 100 Northern Rivers schools every year for the next three years.

The Australian Government's Catalyst program has granted Byron Writers' Festival $300,000 over three years to expand the reach of the StoryBoard initiative, first piloted in 2016.

The successful 2016 trial saw authors Tristan Bancks and Samantha Turnbull visit more than 20 local regional schools.

Byron Writers Festival Director Edwina Johnson says the grant opens up exciting opportunities for primary and high school students at the 100-plus schools in the region.

"Encouraging active literacy in exciting and creative ways through StoryBoard is a game changer," she said.

"According to the Northern Rivers Social Profile, our region has higher vulnerability rates than other parts of NSW for children's social competence, communication skills and general knowledge.

"Many of our kids aren't reaching literacy levels that allow them to fully participate in the world and create their futures."

The StoryBoard program offers participating schools a free three-hour workshop with an award-winning author.

The students brainstorm, imagine, and create their own short story, based on their lives.

StoryBoard also offers support for students through volunteer tutors, and publishing opportunities for students and their stories.

StoryBoard was successful in attracting two other grants last year, enabling the program to purchase a vehicle to take authors and volunteer tutors out to schools.

The StoryBoard bus - which will be a work of art in itself - and the workshop approach is configured to create the quirkiness to inspire children, teachers and schools.

Byron Writers Festival is lining up a stellar program of nationally renowned storytellers, ready to begin touring the region early in the 2017 school year.

"We are absolutely thrilled that the Catalyst program sees the value of StoryBoard in boosting children's literacy and confidence," Ms Johnson said.

"A powerful collaboration that builds on the 2016 grants from Arts NSW and the Australian Government's Stronger Communities program.

"We're keen to hear from Northern Rivers schools and people interested in becoming volunteer tutors as we roll out the exciting StoryBoard program."

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