Michael King Writers’ Centre Annual Report 2014-15
The Michael King Writers’ Centre can look back on 10 years of wonderful achievements, but funding for the literary sector has become increasingly difficult to get, chair Catriona Ferguson said in her annual report for 2014-15.
“This year we celebrate the first 10 years of the Michael King Writers’ Centre. Since the centre was set up, we have had 34 writers in residence – 33 of them from New Zealand and one from China - well over 100 visiting writers from New Zealand and around the world, and thousands of people have visited the historic house or attended one of our literary events. Several thousand students of all ages have taken part in our programmes for young writers.”
The Trust was formally established in June 2004 and the centre itself opened in the historic Signalman’s House on Takarunga Mt Victoria, Devonport, in 2005.
“There was never a doubt that a writer’s retreat was a fitting way to remember Michael King and to honour his important contribution to New Zealand writing.”
Ms Ferguson paid tribute to the great work done by all of the early Trustees, donors and supporters, who got the project off the ground.
“Everyone in those early days hoped the project would succeed; I doubt if any of them imagined how quickly it would grow and how much would be achieved. The project quickly took on a life of its own. The Michael King Writers’ Centre now makes a significant contribution to New Zealand literature.
“This is a lovely project, with a special mix. At its core, the project is about celebrating writers and writing.
“New Zealand, with its small population and publishing market, is not an easy place for writers to live and work. Residencies are a very important way for writers to receive support.
“We like to think that the Michael King Writers’ Centre offers the pre-eminent writers’ residencies in New Zealand. We are the only project that has an annual programme of residencies and we leverage the connections we develop with our writers for activities such as workshops for writers at all levels, and for public events that celebrate New Zealand writers and literature.”
Thirty-four writers have held supported residencies at the centre since it began in 2005. Last year New Zealand novelist Alison Wong held a two month residency in Shanghai, as a result of a partnership between the Michael King Writers’ Centre and Chinese writing organisations. A writer from Shanghai will hold a two month residency at the centre in September and October this year, as well as the New Zealand writers in residence.
“We now have a very impressive list of alumni, and a growing list of important work that has been written during residencies at the centre.”
Among them is Man Booker Prize Winner Eleanor Catton, who completed The Luminaries while she was at the centre. Next month, Victoria University Press will publish Maurice Gee: Life and Work by Rachel Barrowman, who worked on the project when she held a short residency at the centre in 2010. The book will be a major contribution to New Zealand literary history.
Ms Ferguson said that funding continues to be a major challenge.
“There are many worthy causes and not much funding to go around. The arts in general, and especially the literary arts, remain under-funded.
“We are very grateful to all of the individual donors, large and small, who continue to support our project. Without a doubt, the centre delivers excellent results for the funding it receives.”
She said that the Trust that runs the centre is looking hard at ways to increase funding for overhead costs and also for projects in the longer term. These include applications for additional grants, fundraising activities, seeking donations and sponsorship.
The annual report was tabled at the Trust’s annual meeting in June. The full report is available on the centre’s web site.
The Michael King Writers’ Studio Trust is a charitable trust (Charities Services number CC25972) and donations are welcome. Donations over $5 are tax deductible.
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Michael King Writers’ Studio Trust
PO Box 32-629
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Thank you for your support.
The Michael King Writers’ Centre thanks its funders and partners, including Creative New Zealand, the Devonport Takapuna Local Board, Auckland Council, Foundation North, the Lion Foundation, the Joyce Fisher Charitable Trust and the Chisholm Whitney Family Charitable Trust.