After four years of planning, fundraising and building, Varuna is now able to offer writers with mobility issues the time and space to write.
On Monday Varuna's accessible writer's studio in Katoomba's Cascade Street, was officially opened, meaning these writers are now able to stay in comfort, with beautiful custom-designed self-contained accommodation, as well as access to the communal areas of the main house via a ramp. Heritage-planning restrictions prevented the modification of the main Varuna house.
"Through the construction of this studio, we are finally able to welcome all writers to Varuna," said Veechi Stuart, Varuna's executive director.
"Hearing the stories of all writers is vital, and we're thrilled that we can now accept applications from all writers, regardless of physical ability."
Varuna's mission is to facilitate writing that enriches and shapes our culture, and that is celebrated internationally. This is achieved through providing time and space to write, a program of professional development, and connecting Australian writers with one other.
The studio was officially opened by Shayne Mallard on behalf of the NSW Government's Arts Minister Don Harwin, with Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle and Cr Don McGregor also in attendance.
The story of how the studio came to be is one of community generosity. In early 2019, construction of the accessible writers' studio was looking almost-but-not-quite achievable, with support from Create NSW, the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, and the NSW government. These grants and a draw down on Varuna's reserves took the project to 90 per cent of its goal, but with the final 10 per cent proving elusive, Varuna turned to community.
"We were amazed by the response," Ms Stuart said.
"More than 100 individuals donated - writers from all across Australia who wanted to make the magic of Varuna accessible to everybody. Our Mountains community was also very generous."
The project exceeded the target, enabling Varuna not only to invest in additional specialist equipment but also to install solar panels, providing an experience that is not just comfortable, but environmentally friendly too.