Hay Festival book festivals credit Adam Tatton Reid

Nine UK book festivals call for increased support in joint statement

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Nine UK book festivals – Borders Book Festival, Cambridge Literary Festival, Cheltenham Festivals, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Hay Festival, Henley Literary Festival, Stratford Literary Festival, Wigtown Book Festival and Wimbledon BookFest – have published a joint statement, calling for increased support.

Collectively, the nine book festivals have sold 464,000 tickets, engaged 64,000 school pupils in free activities, offered 99,000 free or subsidised event tickets, and reached audiences in all 121 postcode areas.

The statement comes amidst intense discussion around arts funding and challenges around sponsorship.

Hay Festival recently ended its partnership with Baillie Gifford following protests and mounting pressure over the company’s links to Israel and fossil fuel companies. Edinburgh International Book Festival and Baillie Gifford collectively agreed to end their partnership and Baillie Gifford is reported to have contacted Wigtown Book Festival, Cheltenham Literature Festival, Cambridge Literary Festival, Henley Literary Festival, and Stratford Literary Festival to end their sponsorship agreements.

Now the festivals are pleading for financial support.

The statement read: “Year on year, our platforms grow and evolve. Recent editions for all of our events have shown increased audience engagement, demonstrating a resilient demand.

“Across the UK, communities are enhanced by festivals bringing culture to their doorstep, while boosting local economies with visitor spend.

“As charities and non-profit organisations, all our festivals operate mixed-funding models that rely on public funding, corporate sponsorship and individual giving. Without this, festivals cannot continue to thrive and engage new audiences.”

This year’s Hay Festival saw footfall increase six per cent – compared to 2023– and ticket sales increased by eight per cent.

Image: Hay Festival/Adam Tatton Reid