Varuna Writers House needs last $18,000 for wheelchair accessible studio

They are "90 per cent there" but just need the last $18,000 to get their wheelchair accessible studio in Katoomba "over the line".

Help with her memoir: The new wheelchair accessible building could mean writers like Sarah-Jane Staszak of Blackheath may access Varuna's residential writing program and have the elusive time and space to write, as well as access to mentors and the writing community.

Help with her memoir: The new wheelchair accessible building could mean writers like Sarah-Jane Staszak of Blackheath may access Varuna's residential writing program and have the elusive time and space to write, as well as access to mentors and the writing community.

So Veechi Stuart, the executive director of Varuna, the pre-eminent institution for the professional development of writers, is now appealing for the community's help through a crowd funding platform, to make their new disability studio come to life.

The National Writer's House currently rejects about three or four applications annually from writers with mobility issues for their national residency program.

The heritage status of the classic 1930s Mountains art deco institution has meant it not possible to modify the existing building. They applied for a number of grants and have drawn down on their reserves to scrape together 90 per cent of the cost.

Ms Stuart said they "are deeply uncomfortable being in a position where we must actively exclude a group of Australian writers ... based on physical limitation."

"At Varuna, we really believe that every Australian story is important."

The plan is to build a simple but private 35 square metre writers' studio. Comprising a bedroom, living area/study, bathroom and kitchenette, it will be connected to the main house of Varuna via a pathway and ramp. This will enable writers to access the ground floor of Varuna to meet with other writers and share evening meals and fireside sessions.

Former outdoor guide and writer, Sarah-Jane Staszak of Blackheath, is one person who would "love to complete a fellowship program at Varuna, but at the moment it simply isn't possible".

Ms Staszak is a quadriplegic following surgery on her spine.

"I am trying to write my memoir and access to a supportive environment, part of a community of writers and where I can press pause on the interruptions of daily life would be invaluable.

"The stories of people with lived experience of a disability are important - and right now, we aren't able to access the same support to write them."

Access for all: Varuna Writers House chair Jennifer Scott and executive director Veechi Stuart, with Liberal candidate for the Blue Mountains Owen Laffin (centre).

Access for all: Varuna Writers House chair Jennifer Scott and executive director Veechi Stuart, with Liberal candidate for the Blue Mountains Owen Laffin (centre).

Varuna is seeking to raise the shortfall before December 13. To help go to: https://www.pozible.com/project/varunas-accessible-writers-studio. Currently their tally has raised nearly $13,000.

In February this year Ms Stuart welcomed a Creative Capital Fund grant from the NSW government of $100,000 towards the wheelchair accessible studio.

At the time, the then Liberal candidate for the state seat of the Blue Mountains, Owen Laffin, said it was one of the many hidden gems of the Blue Mountains arts and cultural community and said sound economic management had enabled the studios funding.