Late last year we launched a very special regional project out into the world and now it’s time to say goodbye to this chapter of the story. That project was No Limits: Young Regional Writers and together our regional team have delivered writing workshops, commissions, micro-residencies, reading events, scratch nights, zines and a host of other creative interventions across regional South Australia this year. We’ve been in person and online in Port Lincoln, Whyalla, Cummins, Cleve, Tumby Bay, Loxton, Waikerie, Renmark, Berri, Barmera, Naracoorte, Mount Gambier and Padthaway. Writers of all ages have joined us from right across Australia for online workshops and live-streamed special events. No Limits finished with a perfect full stop in the shape of an Arts South Australia Ruby Award for Best Regional Event or Project. It’s been a big (big) year of investing in the next generation of regional storytellers and we are so proud of this work, and everything it represents.
In 2023 you’ll see the continued legacy of No Limits through special outcomes such as Counter Urban Questions, and you’ll also see new regional activity through our Writers in Schools project launching next year. Our suite of online workshops available from anywhere continues to grow and we now have a dedicated Writers SA Regional Membership. But this blog isn’t about the future or what comes next (stay tuned for all of that next year!), this blog is about reflecting on and celebrating the moments of impact No Limits has created.
All things must end, and all good writers know that endings are just as important as beginnings. Now that No Limits is ending (for now), we asked the regional team to reflect on their highlights, challenges and what No Limits has meant to them:
AUDREY MENZ, REGIONAL PROGRAM ASSISTANT
Working with the No Limits team this year was my first paid position in the arts sector, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Being a part of this team has done more than just give me an opportunity to enter or learn about the arts industry, but brought me into a passionate cohort of unique creatives and a role that has fundamentally changed my career goals and concept of ‘value’ for the better.
For me, this has been a year of ‘connection’: from connecting with other artists at exciting new events like Portal Fantasy Festival, to connecting with new resources online, or new communities through No Limits programs.
I have had the absolute pleasure of working as the facilitator for The Online Teen Writers Circle this year, and I have been lucky to watch the program evolve in ways I couldn’t have initially predicted. I was nervous when I began facilitating the program in May, and initially worried that I couldn’t make the group engaging enough to draw participants. Eventually, I realised that the value of this program wasn’t how many resources I could provide or how many skills I could teach (although still very useful), but that I was creating a safe encouraging space where young creatives can be inspired and make peer connections. It’s clear to me now that this is how our group has drawn so many dedicated teen writers each week, and developed into a community full of life.
Whilst No Limits won’t be continuing in 2023, there is an extraordinary amount of work to celebrate from this year. It has been a pleasure to watch Alysha, Kirste, and Eliza develop and implement programs across regional SA, and I hope that seeing this program succeed and watching regional communities respond to our work will encourage other creatives to engage with our wondrous regional artists as well.
ELIZA WUTTKE, EYRE PENINSULA COORDINATOR
It has been an absolute pleasure to work with so many brilliantly talented people through No Limits over the last 18 months. In what has been a tricky time with covid and other challenges we have still been able to tell and share the stories of young people on the Eyre Peninsula, having young regional voices as part of the bigger conversation is so important. In this work we have created communities of young people who feel safe and valued. Young writers who feel like their work has value and their writerly aspirations have been validated. We have provided opportunities for new friendships to flourish and exciting collaborations to emerge. I am incredibly grateful that I get to do this work and am proud of everything we have achieved, even the stuff that hasn’t landed quite how we hoped. I don’t want to discount the challenges, it has been hard, starting from scratch and building something new from the ground up during a global pandemic while also grappling with my own personal covid anxieties and uncertainty was a struggle. So often I felt defeated, like what I was doing wasn’t enough, worried that I hadn’t reached enough people or held enough public facing events. Upon reflection I can see that actually it was enough, the connections made, one on one conversations had and opportunities offered all had impact beyond what I could see. We were responsive and adaptive, working with the needs of the young people who came to us and the communities and contexts we were working within. Looking back, I see that not only have I been able to impact other young writers through this work but I have been able to develop myself as a writer and creative producer, expanding my skills and creating a new network for myself. I can see now that the connections made through No Limits is where the real magic is and I will carry these with me.
ALYSHA HERRMANN, STATEWIDE REGIONAL MANAGER NO LIMITS
I’m greedy, so I always wish I could do and give more. Our state is huge and there is so much untapped talent and potential that it feels as though we barely scratched the surface this year and last year. And yet, gathering this week with the team to reflect and wrap-up No Limits, I’ve been reminded of of just how much we have achieved: over 200 artists provided with paid opportunities through commissions, workshops and events, well over 1000 attendances across the No Limits program, and some 600+ audience members experiencing the stories of regional young people. Although we count the numbers, the most impactful moments of No Limits have not been about numbers. The moments that have made all the difference are the individual connections between young writers, the validation of being invited to share creative work in a paid capacity alongside peers, the development over multiple engagements with the program, and the quiet (and not so quiet) discussions after a workshop or event. The true impact of No Limits is in the growing confidence and networks of regional writers, young and old, who have been at the heart of this project, and the ways this will manifest in the coming years. I’ll be watching and cheering every one of you on and I’m excited to re-join you on the other side of Writers SA’s work as a fellow writer and member of Writers SA. We have so many stories to tell in the regions and our stories matter.
KIRSTE VANDERGIESSEN, RIVERLAND COORDINATOR
As our days with No Limits dwindle down, as a team, we’ve had a lot of time to chat and reflect upon our time, our events, our impact and the future of writing in our regions.
Each of us has had so many opportunities to connect with our communities and deliver things they’re excited about, as well as things they need (maybe even things they didn’t think they needed). Collectively, we all kind of feel like we only just started scratching the surface, we finally started cracking the barrier and our communities were beginning to understand who we were (as individuals and as an organisation) and what we were offering.
It’s hard to say goodbye to this role** for a lot of reasons, but especially after seeing the impact No Limits has had across SA. But Eliza, Alysha, Audrey and I will forge on, in other ways, and Writers SA has ways you can engage in 2023.
Thank you to everyone who came along to an event, facilitated a workshop, submitted a piece of writing, swiped off the cobwebs of their writing gears, lent a helping-hand, or even witnessed my mania before an event, thank you. You have brought the team and I a lot of joy.
This year would not have worked without your bravery, support, and go-getter attitudes. I’m so humbled to be involved with such an incredible community.
I’m sure I’ll see you around, and until then, keep writing, dreaming, scheming and creating.
**Kirste will be staying on with Writers SA one day per week until the end of March to deliver Counter Urban Questions, so you might still see her in your email inbox!
Thank you to all of the presenters, facilitators, collaborators, artists, allies and others who have made No Limits possible, but thank you most of all to the writers of all ages who have shared their words and ideas to foster and grow the literary landscape of regional SA this year.
Join us in March 2023 at the Chaffey Theatre for Counter Urban Questions to see the outcome of the No Limits closing commission project. This event, presented in collaboration with Adelaide Fringe, will also be livestreamed so you can tune in from wherever you are to celebrate with us.
You can explore the archive of No Limits outcomes here.
Grab yourself a Writers SA Regional Membership here and stay connected to hear all about future regional projects and opportunities.