Extending its reach

Hampshire Life|July 2020

Extending its reach
A new writing festival is going virtual for its first event to inspire and support first-time authors
Duncan Hall

When Sara Gangai put together plans for the first Writers’ Weekend Winchester, she had no idea that the coronavirus lockdown would throw everything askew.

But in planning the followup to the hugely successful Winchester Writers’ Festival, which ended in 2019 after 39 years, she added a virtual element which is now paying dividends.

“There’s so much video conferencing going on nowadays,” she told Hampshire Life before the lockdown fell. “We had feedback in the past from people who would have loved to have come, but it was too far away, or they couldn’t afford it. By putting elements on a website people can purchase a video or a virtual package for an inexpensive price.”

Fast forward three months and the entirety of Writers’ Weekend Winchester has gone virtual – from streamed talks to workshops, as well as the exclusive 15-minute one-to-one sessions allowing writers to speak directly to literary agents and publishers.

“We wanted to ensure the writing community can still access the extraordinary range of content the Writers’ Weekend offers,” says Sara announcing the new format. “While the technology is easy-to-use we will hold training sessions ahead of the event and provide support to anyone who needs help to set up their computer, tablet or smartphone. We want everyone to enjoy what will be an amazing weekend.”

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July 2020