From the Chairperson
In 1993, a 12 member European Economic Community set up its vast free trade zone, Boris Yeltsin was elected the new leader of Russia and the World Wide Web was born. The other equally significant event was the birth of the Somerset Celebration of Literature, with the very first festival running from 24 to 27 March 1994.
It has been 20 years since that day and the festival is still celebrating. In that time we have brought 708 writers, artists and performers to the College grounds to enthral and entertain young people and adults alike.
It is timely to acknowledge the contribution of those people who have given so much to this event. I refer to the founders, Gail Parr, Lorraine Pilgrim, Karen Berkman, Wendy O’Reagan and Graeme Gardiner; and to festival Programme Directors, Jean Yates, Paul Alcorn, Sue Bonifant and current Director, Karen Mackie. In addition, this festival would not be still thriving if not for the huge support of our volunteers numbering well into the thousands; men and women too numerous to mention, who have shouldered the responsibility of the numerous organising committees. It is also important to acknowledge all our sponsors (past and present) who have contributed to the festival over the last 20 years.
Three major sponsors, in particular stand out. They are parents, sponsors, Board members and friends of the festival. Bede Young has been a generous provider of transport over all these years. Tony Hickey, current Chair of the College Board, has been involved in the festival in various permutations over the years. In his generous sponsorship of the National Novella Competition along with Penguin Books over many years, Tony has left an indelible mark on improving literacy and encouraging young writers. Terry Herbert, Deputy Chair of the College Board, has given generously in so many ways over the years. He has sweated in the blazing hot sun setting up bookstalls, cajoled publishers to make contributions, sponsored schools to attend the festival and been a major contributor to keeping this event economically buoyant. Finally, a public vote of thanks is due to two Headmasters, Barry Arnison and Craig Bassingthwaighte; one who had the vision to give this festival the green light and the other, our current Headmaster, Craig, who has encouraged the event at every opportunity and helped bring it to a sustainable place; so that we can look to the future with a sense of confidence.
I also gratefully acknowledge the financial assistance that we have received this year from the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, the Regional Arts Development Fund and the Gold Coast City Council.
The Somerset Celebration of Literature has changed over the years as it endeavours to keep itself solvent and relevant. There are significant changes in this, our 20th year, with a new format for the welcome party and literary dinner as these events symbolically return to the beautiful surrounds of the Somerset quadrangle; to name but two innovations.
Finally, although the festival owes its existence to the contributions of so many wonderful individuals, it is the sum of these parts that go to make up this new and unique event; which is bigger than all of us. I have no doubt that the festival will continue to thrive well into the future.
Enjoy celebrating 20 years on
Dr Michael Brohier