Sydney Writers' Festival 2012 Program Launch

(6pm March 29 2012, Pier 8/9 Hickson Road Walsh Bay)

Thank you, Ben Strout, MC. I would like to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the 200 nationalities who make up our city.

I would also like to acknowledge Deena Shiff, Chair of the Sydney Writers' Festival Board; James Strong, Chairman of the Australia Council for the Arts and Festival Board Members.

Once again, we're anticipating a fantastic week in May - a week that both reflects and stimulates our city's lively cultural life.

The Writers' Festival has become a fixture on calendars both locally and internationally as one of the biggest and most engaging of literary festivals.

The City is proud to be one of its founding supporters and to have seen its growth from the first fully-independent event in 1998 to its present status as Australia's most significant annual literary event.

Festivals like this are generally said these days to be "good for the economy" and for "building a city's brand". And of course, they are.

But more importantly for us at the City of Sydney is what they achieve for our cultural life, for the doors that they open both for readers and writers.

Together, writing and reading help build community which is - or should be - the foundation of our urban lives, the very reason people come together in cities, and this multi-faceted Festival is a great reflection of our multi-faceted Sydney.

In the spirit of Sydney itself, it certainly remains one of the most diverse and accessible of festivals, with over half of this year's 300-plus events free of charge.

Two hundred and forty of those events will be held within the City of Sydney boundaries, including some lively topical debates and an engaging children's program which will be held in our much-loved Town Hall.

I know you are looking forward to hearing from Chip the details of this year's program.

And come May, I look forward to another provocative and stimulating Sydney Writers' Festival, with all the vitality and excitement it brings to our City.