We’re thrilled to announce the appointment of Jes Layton as the new Executive Director and Co-CEO of EWF, for a 3-year term!

Jes comes to EWF from roles with Express Media, the National Young Writers’ Festival, and the UNESCO Melbourne City of Literature Office. Jes has worked with EWF previously, both as a festival artist (2017-2022) and Creative Producer (2015-2016). He has appeared at a variety of local and national literary festivals and his both written and illustrative work can be found at SBSJunkeeVoiceworksKill Your DarlingsArcherThe Big IssueBlack IncPantera PressFremantle Press, and scattered elsewhere online and in print.

We are thrilled to have Jes joining us in this important role,” said EWF Chair, Craig Semple. “Jes was a Creative Producer with the festival some years ago and has a deep knowledge of our organisation and community. He will be a wonderful addition to the team, particularly as EWF continues to improve its support and development of emerging writers and their community”.

EWF appoints Layton after the departure of previous Executive Director, Alice Muhling, in late 2022, toward the end of her 4-year term, to take up a position at Yirramboi Festival. “Alice commenced with us in early 2019 and provided amazing leadership and talented administration of the festival over times of unprecedented tumult in the Arts sector. We are incredibly grateful to have had Alice with us over those testing times,” said Craig.

Jes’s appointment as the new Executive Director comes following EWF’s return to its hybrid online and in-person structure last year, after two years of revered online literary programming. This return signalled the continuing evolution of EWF as one of the continent’s most well-respected literary festivals. Layton will be in the role for the next three years and said:

I am absolutely stoked to be joining the Emerging Writers Festival team. Over the last near-decade my arts career has been a bit ‘this’n’that’ but through it all, EWF has been a constant, supporting me as they do the thousands of emerging practitioners in our industry. I admire the work they do and truly feel that EWF sets the standard of both operations and arts programming on a national stage.

I’m most excited to have the opportunity to help steer an organisation and community I am desperately passionate about through this time of necessary change in so-called Australian arts, culture and literature. I’m looking forward to continuing to facilitate the excellent work EWF does and grow alongside my teammates and this wonderful community of creators.

Artistic Director and co-CEO, Ruby-Rose Pivet-Marsh said of the appointment: “Saying goodbye to Alice was bittersweet. Her departure is a reminder that EWF is not only passionate about emerging writers, but also emerging arts professionals, and is a valuable steppingstone in the industry. With that in mind, we are beyond excited to have Jes join us. He has been a valued member of our community over the years, and this feels like a natural evolution of his involvement with the festival. Working together is already proving to be wonderful!

The Emerging Writers’ Festival 2023 will run from June 14-24 in venues across Melbourne’s CBD and surrounding suburbs.