WORD Christchurch has boldly and successfully delivered high-quality festivals and events for over 25 years, bringing communities together through a love of words in all their forms. We shifted and moved with the pandemic times to a combination of live and live-streamed events. We are world-class. We give Christchurch audiences direct access to the best authors in New Zealand and the world, ground-breaking ideas, Ngāi Tahu stories, and opportunities for local writers to create new work. With an audience satisfaction rating of 99.4% in our 2020 festival survey, we’re confident that we succeed in that mission.
At our core, we’re about books and ideas, but that means you’ll see anything from showcases of poetry and song, expert panels debating issues, youth and school programmes to inspire a love of reading and writing, and a wide range of only-in-festival events. A typical programme comprises 50+ events spread across five days, with 150 authors as our guests. Our primary venues are The Piano, Tūranga, The Christchurch Town Hall, Christchurch Art Gallery and Little Andromeda, plus smaller venues around the city.
We make the city cool again. For five days we flood the CBD with a buzz of excited people and conversations, filling not just our venues, but the whole neighbourhood. As we emerge from a decade of rebuilding, and look towards urban revitalisation and recovery from COVID-19, we’re in amongst it and playing an important role in the return of life to the city’s heart.
At the most basic level, our festival helps create literate, thoughtful members of the Christchurch community. Fostering a love of words brings with it a knowledge base that assists people with education, job prospects and social cohesion. Beyond this, our events are often encouraging differences in thought to be listened to and considered respectfully, connecting communities through ideas, story and creativity. Being able to use words to communicate how you feel is such a powerful tool for our community’s wellbeing.
WORD Christchurch presents events that educate, inform, entertain and inspire the community no matter how much is in their wallet. In the 2022 festival 30% of our events are free events, including sessions with Māori and Pacific communities, free family events, and some seriously inspiring youth events.
We love young readers and we help them flourish. Our free and low cost schools events expose students to writers that entertain and increase literacy levels while reducing barriers to participation.
WORD employs three permanent staff – Steph Walker- Executive Director, Kiran Dass – Programme Lead, and Magda Lorenzo – Administration & Operations Manager. For each festival, we employ contract workers to assist in the planning and presentation of the festival itself, and have some phenomenal volunteers who help make our events hum. We also bring in Programmers-at-Large to make sure we’re sharing our resources and voice to as wide a range of communities as possible.