Guildford Book Festival has announced that it is facing an uncertain future as a result of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The charity, which this October is set to celebrate its 31st edition, is reliant upon sponsorship and advertising to generate the £20,000 it costs each year to deliver the Festival. But with local businesses hard-hit by the lockdown and a fall in other funding, the charity is facing a significant shortfall in its income – which could mean that the 2020 event, taking place between 4 and 11 October, is its last.
To safeguard its future, Guildford Book Festival has launched a fundraising appeal and is asking the local community for support.
Each year, Guildford Book Festival brings leading writers to the town to inspire a love of reading, writing and illustrating among all. Jodi Picoult, Sebastian Faulks, Joanna Trollope, Ian Rankin, Kate Mosse, Michael Morpurgo, Robert Harris and former Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy are amongst the many hundreds of celebrated authors to have appeared at Guildford Book Festival over the years, along with household names including Sir Roger Moore, Nigella Lawson, David Suchet, Dame Jenni Murray, Graham Norton, Sarah Millican, and Sir Ian Botham.
Importantly, funds raised through ticket sales at these events enable the Festival to deliver its schools’ programme, which takes bestselling children’s authors into the Borough’s schools free of charge.
Commenting, Jane Beaton, Co-Director of Guildford Book Festival, said: “Guildford Book Festival has been at the heart of our community for 31 years, bringing leading authors and lively debate to our town, our university and into our schools.”
“We are determined that the 2020 Festival will go ahead this October, and we very much hope that we will be able to welcome audiences to our venues across the town. If, however, the Government’s guidance prohibits live events taking place, we will present the Festival online.”
“But we are currently facing the prospect of this being our last Festival, and we are launching our first ever appeal to ask the public for their support.”
Alex Andrews, Co-Director of Guildford Book Festival, continues: “We recognise that these are very challenging times, and we would be very grateful for donations of any size. We thank everyone who has supported us previously, and also want to say a special thank you to the organisations able to support us this year: Martin Grant Homes, cressive.com, RoffeSwayne, Green Team Interiors and the National Trust. We really hope that, together, we can enable our future.”
Leading international crime writer Peter James, a regular at Guildford over the years, said:
“As our lives have become more limited this year, the power of the written word to transport us into other worlds and others’ minds has felt particularly pertinent. One of the joys of reading is being able to share these worlds with other readers at literary festivals. Guildford Book Festival is a festival I return to again and again for the wonderful atmosphere and wide variety of the talent it attracts. I am so pleased that, whether in person or online, we will still be able to come together this year and I hope, with kind donations, for many more after.”
Multi-million bestselling author, Adele Parks, who lives in Guildford and is a Patron of Guildford Book Festival, said:
“Guildford Book Festival is a highlight in my calendar: both professionally and personally. For over thirty years this annual event has brought culture, stimulation, education and entertainment to our doorstep. As it is so well established, it always attracts the very biggest names in the literary world, as well as supporting new talent and debuts; GBF is recognised as one of the very best festivals in the country. GBF fosters an important sense of community as book festivals are the perfect place to celebrate a love of literature with fellow fans, see favourite authors talk about their work, and of course, discover new writers and illustrators. It would be an unutterable loss to our community, to the book industry and to readers present and future if we can’t support and save this wonderful cultural event.”
Surrey resident and another Festival favourite, Alison Weir, who is the UK’s biggest-selling female historian, said:
“I love the Guildford Festival. They have been kind enough to invite me back several times over the years and, having done over 950 events in my career as an author, I can honestly say that Guildford is one of the best festivals ever. From the warm welcome to the fabulous audiences, and thanks to the seamless organising, it’s a great experience.”
“Festivals bring communities together, offering events to cater for all interests at a very reasonable cost. Where else do local people have the opportunity to meet their favourite authors on their own doorstep? It’s so important to bring people together culturally, to share stories and ideas, and just to have a great time. That’s what the Guildford Festival offers – and we should all treasure it.”
To support Guildford Book Festival, please visit http://www.guildfordbookfestival.co.uk/
Already announced for the 2020 Guildford Book Festival, taking place between 4 and 11 October, are: Adele Parks, Alison Weir, Charles Spencer, Joanna Trollope, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Peter James, Richard Osman and Susie Dent. To find out about sponsorship, please contact [email protected]
Image: Alex Scarrow entertains students during Guildford Book Festival’s Schools’ Week
Photo: Fiona Digby-Jones