Final Report 2015

Overview

Write Along The Highway (WATH) is a festival of writing events hosted by a collective of Western Australian libraries who have united to celebrate National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Together we support and promote the local literary industry by encouraging community and professional development of our local writers. WATH presents a series of write-ins, author talks, workshops, and events throughout October, November and December. Bringing writers together to write, to create, to learn, and to grow.

Information Sessions

Rebecca Laffar-Smith hosted six information sessions in October at various participating libraries. Rebecca gave an informative talk about how the project works and how interested people could benefit from participating. Participants were invited to ask questions of both organisers and NaNoWriMo veterans. They were also given an opportunity to network with fellow writers and find out more about upcoming events spanning the Write Along The Highway calendar.
Total Attendance: 58 (6 sessions)

Kick-Off Party

On the 1st of November, the NaNoWriMo portion of the writers’ festival kicked off with a well-attended Kick-Off Party. The party involved a primary focus on writing with all attendees expected to bring their NaNoWriMo project on the day and work toward establishing a good foundation of words. The event was hosted and catered by volunteer, Rebecca Laffar-Smith with food platters, cake, and sweets. The Gary Holland Community Centre venue was donated by the City of Rockingham and was very well suited for the event.
Total Attendance: 30

Expos

We hosted two expos as part of our festival of events in 2015. The Rockingham Writers Expo in October and the Gosnells Writers Circle Self-Publishing Expo in December. Both events were uniquely structured with Rockingham presenting a day of sit-down talks and panel sessions with a catered lunch and Gosnells having a series of stalls for one-on-one Q&A and networking opportunities with experienced professionals and an invigorating opening address. Both expos were well received.
Total Attendance: Approx. 175 (2 expos)

Write-Ins

Participating libraries made welcoming spaces available for ‘write-in’ sessions throughout November. Spaces provided comfortable seating, tables, access to power, and refreshments to allow for comfortable writing sessions and conversation. Writing tends to be a solitary gig and the ‘write-ins’ give motivation, community, support, and dedicated time to help participants achieve their goals.
Total Attendance: 167 (28 sessions)

Individual participating library statistics:

Venue: Attendance Total (No. of Events)
Fremantle: 4+7+3 Total: 14 (3)
State library: 8+10+9+7+6 Total: 40 (5)
Manning: 5+2+2+4 Total: 13 (4)
Belmont: 6+4+3 Total 13 (3)
Perth: 6+4 Total: 10 (2)
Thornlie: 14+3 Total: 17 (2)
Armadale: 10+7 Total: 17 (2)
Rockingham: 11+3+5+5 Total: 24 (4)
Mundijong: 3 Total: 03 (1)
Victoria Park: 9+7 Total: 16 (2)

NOTE: There is clearly better numbers in the first and second week of NaNoWriMo where attendance drops considerably in weeks three and four. There is also better attendance where write ins proceed author workshops/talks.

Workshops

The majority of workshops were held in October to help writers prepare for NaNoWriMo. In October the workshops focused on the craft of writing particularly with regard to plot and character development to allow writers to develop their ideas. In December workshops focused on editing and publishing options so that participants could consider what to do with the works they created in November.
Total Attendance: 301 (17 workshops)

Author Talks

Author talks were held in November with a primary focus on encouraging and motivating writers to get the words written.
Total Attendance: 143 (5 talks)

Write Night

On November 28th we held our major event for Write Along The Highway. Write Night 2015 was a four-hour event that consisted of two writing challenges, games, and a panel of literary experts as well as prizes and goodies for all participants. With thanks to the City of South Perth for donating the venue for the night and thanks to our sponsors for donations of prizes and goodies. Write Night has always been very warmly received with wonderful feedback but we will again consider changes that could lead to better attendance in future years.
Total Attendance: 38

More statistical data

At all events, contact information was collected from attendees as available. This lead to the creation of a database of 331 unique email addresses and a total of 462 unique names from people who showed an interest in the festival by joining the mailing list or Facebook group and booking/attending events.
Facebook Group Members: 134
WATH Mailing List: 66

WATH incorporates a connection with the international National Novel Writing Month program and as such connects with participating members registered to NaNoWriMo.
W.A. NaNoWriMo 2015 Users:
Perth South: 240
Perth North: 198
Rockingham Mandurah: 40
Margaret River: 7
TOTAL = 486

Over the course of November, participants of NaNoWriMo take on the challenge to write 50,000 words. Those who achieve this feat are declared ‘winners’.
Perth South NaNoWriMo winners: 58 (58 of 240 with more than 50,000 words)

This year we developed an online calendar and website to help participants learn more about our calendar of events. The website showed significant traffic in September and October when the program was released and continued to be a resource for interested members of the community over the course of the festival.
WATH Website Sessions: 4153
WATH Website Unique Visitors: 2938
WATH Website Total Page Views: 8483

Expenses (incomplete)

Brochures:
The Little Print Shop – (reduced price)
2,000 copies $1,160 ($128.89 per Council)

WATH banners:
New $130.00; Re-skin $50.00

Sponsor banner:
Donated by the City of Armadale ($130.00)

Catering:
Individual Events Refreshments: $50
Individual Write In Refreshments: $10
Write Night: $600 ($67 per Council)

Artist Fees:
Author Talks (5 Talks): $2100 (ASA Rate per 1h talk $350)
Workshops (17 Workshops): $9350 (ASA Rate per 2-3h workshop $550)
Write Night Panel (4 Panelists): $590 ($66 per Council) (ASA Rate $147.50)
Write Night Musician (1) Donated by Artist

Venues:
Average Venue Cost: $20/h

Staff Hours:
Unknown

Approximate total Projected Expense Per Library Service for the 2016 Write Along The Highway Writers Festival:

Brochures (200): approx. $130
WATH banners (new): New $130.00
Sponsor banner: approx. $15
Catering: approx. $200
Artist Fees: approx. $1250
Venues & Equipment: approx. $300 – Usually free access to Library Service
Staff Costs for events: approx. $600 – Usually part of normal cost of Library Service
Total Cost: approx. $3000 (over two months)

What worked – comments

  • The new look brochure with all the info in one place
  • The weekday evening and Saturday events / workshops / author talks
  • Coupling Write Ins times with workshops/talks
  • Committee members sharing information and keeping each other informed

What we can improve on – comments

  • Write Night – timing…. Is Saturday a better day? Would a day time event be better? NOTE: Rebecca will survey participants to get further feedback.
  • Send WATH grant applications sooner in 2016, more feedback and support from the committee to ensure excellence in application quality. i.e. Australian Council for the Arts, Lottery West
  • This year we need to carefully outline the projected expenses and potential levels of involvement so that everyone has a better sense of what is involved up front and so that we can fairly delegate expenses (taken from Rebecca’s email Monday 14th September 2015)
  • Wider promotion and better use of the local news resources and member associations for writers across Western Australia (including FAWWA, KSP, Perth Writers Festival, etc.)
  • More effective use of social media; event photography encouraged with staff and participants encouraged to share photographs and event titbits both before, during, and after events. Invite speakers to further promote their own events and the festival as a whole within their networks.

Sponsors

  • Fremantle Press
  • Writing WA
  • New Edition Bookshop
  • Crow Books
  • Quality Comics
  • Dymocks
  • Millpoint Caffe Bookshop
  • Armadale Writer’s Group
  • Serpentine/Jarrahdale Library Friends Inc.
  • Mundella
  • Aulexic
  • Millbrook winery
  • The Old Homestead Soap & Wares Store
  • The Manse Restaurant
  • J&P’s Wicked Candles
  • Café On The Dam

Organising Committee

Rebecca Laffar-Smith Project Coordinator & NaNoWriMo ML
Lizelle Smith & Lisa Keys Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale
Jenny Ramshaw City of Armadale
Ken Allen City of Fremantle
Tamara Lampard City of South Perth
Britt Ingerson City of Victoria Park
Sian Brown City of Gosnells
Lee Battersby City of Rockingham
Suzanne Rofe City of Perth
Wendy Kirkup City of Belmont
Joanna Andrew State Library of W.A.

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