With more than 50,000 attendees and a 45 percent increase in ticket sales compared to last year, the 2014 five day Auckland Writers Festival which closed this evening, has been declared a triumph.
Festival Director Anne O’Brien says she is overwhelmed by the response to this year’s programme.
“Audiences have flocked to the Aotea Centre in central Auckland this weekend and left abuzz with what they’ve seen and heard. More people came and more people attended multiple festival events. Gone are the days when people popped down to one session. They’re clearing the calendar and spending the day!” she says.
“The writers have been hugely generous, with many travelling from the Northern Hemisphere to take part in the Festival. I am immensely grateful to them, the audience, and the brilliant and dedicated Festival team of staff and volunteers for making this year the huge success that it has been,” she says.
The Festival’s many free events were filled to capacity and a number of ticketed events in the Aotea Centre’s venues were sold out.
Children, students, singles, couples and retirees were out en masse, soaking up the words and wisdom of such writers as Alexander McCall Smith, Sandi Toksvig, Jim Al-Khalili, Elizabeth Knox and Irvine Welsh. Eleanor Catton and Alice Walker each received long standing ovations to their sold out sessions in the ASB Theatre.
Keri Hulme, who travelled overland from Oamaru, was greeted by a rapturous crowd, as her book The Bone People was celebrated as the inaugural Great Kiwi Classic. Ms Hulme said she was very touched to have her book honoured and felt compelled to make the journey to Auckland to be at the Festival.
Festival chair Sarah Sandley said this year’s festival is going to be hard to beat.
“I’m immensely proud of this leading cultural event’s contribution to the country’s artistic and intellectual landscape.
“It remains for me to sincerely acknowledge the hard work and dedication of Auckland Writers Festival staff and trustees and extend my sincere thanks to our patrons, sponsors, funders and Festival friends. Without their steadfast dedication, this Festival could not have happened.”