‘MUCH GRIEF’: Arts community mourns loss of author
THE arts community is mourning the loss of author and screenwriter Jesse Blackadder.
Ms Blackadder, who lived in the Byron Shire, had publicly shared that she had been living with pancreatic cancer at the start of the year.
She was a key figure behind the StoryBoard initiative at Byron Writers Festival, the festival’s major program for reaching school-aged children.
“It is with much grief that we let you know that Jesse Blackadder, our much loved board member, local author and founder of StoryBoard died on 10 June,” the Byron Writers Festival team said in a statement.
“Tirelessly adventurous, Jesse had a generosity of spirit that was unparalleled, a cheeky sense of humour and a great love for the Northern Rivers, her writing community, her family and her partner Andi.
“Jesse was the driving force behind the Storyboard program that has touched so many young lives.
“She was a teacher, mentor, and contributed to the wider literary community in roles such as peer assessor for the Australia Council and Create NSW, and author ambassador for Room to Read.
“Perhaps Jesse’s greatest legacy is that she gave joy.
“To be in the same room as her was to be uplifted by her warmth and positive energy.
“We are grateful for the amount of support she received in the past few months, and that she was peaceful, calm and surrounded by her loved ones in her final days.”
Screenworks CEO Ken Crouch said his organisation was deeply saddened by Ms Blackadder’s passing.
“We’ve worked with Jesse for many years on the Books to Screen program we run in conjunction with Byron Writers Festival,” Mr Crouch said.
“Her drive and her passion for that side of things was just so strong and it was always a pleasure to work with her.
Ms Blackadder was one of 12 regional Australian women selected for the Athena program, which was designed to help writers and directors develop their careers, in 2016.
She was also selected for the Screenworks Writing Intensive and Inside the Writers room programs.
The Books to Screen program has been running since 2015.
“She was so talented,” Mr Crouch said.
“It was so easy to support someone with so much talent.
“We’re just really sad that she’s left us.
“We’re really going to miss her laughter and her love and being part of our community.”
Even as the creative community of the Northern Rivers and further afield processes this loss, it’s clear her impact will be long remembered.
“There are so many things that Jesse has achieved above and beyond just her writing.”
“Her role in supporting other people in the industry and mentoring young writers will go on as a legacy.
“I think the full extent of Jesse’s contribution to the arts, screen and cultural industry across the Northern Rivers will never be fully appreciated because it was so broad and diverse.”
He said it would be “incredibly hard to calculate” the loss of her passing.
In a post online, Screenworks extended its condolences to Ms Blackadder’s partner, family, friends and colleagues.
“Her curiosity and determination to get books optioned, combined with her talent and enthusiasm ensured that a whole community of authors and screenwriters came along on the journey with her,” the post said.
“We are now approaching our fifth year of running the Books to Screen program and we value that Jesse worked with us to mould, adapt and develop a relevant and popular program that has now informed hundreds of authors and screenwriters and launched opportunities.
“Our team will never forget Jesse’s commitment to and involvement in many of our programs.”
“Jesse’s sense of adventure, her resourcefulness and her good nature combined with her talent has been an inspiration to us and so many in the filmmaking community.”
In a Facebook post in January, Ms Blackadder said she had been undergoing chemotherapy and thanked the community for their well-wishes.