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Jun 19, 2018

2018 Guernsey Literary Festival better than ever

Last month’s Guernsey Literary Festival was even more successful than 2017’s event, with ticket sales up 34%, and a record attendance of 5,064 at ticketed events. The Festival attracted 40 speakers, from well-known media figures to political and social commentators, novelists and poets, scientists and endurance athletes, journalists and musicians. In total, 65 talks, workshops and events took place during the course of the festival, which ran from 10th-13th May.

The Festival’s education programme also featured 14 talks in 11 local schools, reaching 2,000 children. Community outreach initiatives included a talk in the prison with Gary Younge, a shared reading with the Cheshire Homes, a talk for teachers and educators and a workshop on climate change with Why Comics to name a few.

Modern Cautionary Tales for Children with Murray Lachlan Younge, sponsored by Rothschild
Modern Cautionary Tales for Children with Murray Lachlan Younge, sponsored by Rothschild

The festival hosted a programme of family events which included children’s author Ross Montgomery, a Harry Potter show, poet and performer Murray Lachlan Young and two Beatrix Potter Tea Parties.

There were four workshops for local writers, record entries for the WriteStuff Competition (484 entries from 16 schools) and record entries for the International Poetry Competition (1,280 poems from 30 countries).

The Guernsey Literary Festival is planned and run by a voluntary Steering Committee, backed by a Festival Board, and this year no fewer than 71 volunteers were involved. It was based in St Peter Port, with venues including the Festival Hub in Market Street, St James, the Guille-Alles Library and Les Cotils. Sponsorship plays a very important part in supporting the Festival with a record 15 sponsors signed up to this year’s festival.

And the visiting speakers spoke highly of the event. BBC Radio 4 presenter Jenni Murray said of her visit:

‘Beautiful island, great literary festival‎. Lovely audience, smashing interviewer, very well looked after. Grateful author! Perfect! And the sun shone!’

Professor Anand Menon, one of the UK’s leading experts on Brexit, who spoke at the Business Breakfast and to a general audience, said ‘What a wonderful event. Flawlessly organised by an efficient and unceasingly friendly team, offering an eye watering choice of brilliant presentations and discussions. And on an island that’s well worth a visit in its own right!’

Folk legend Peggy Seeger, who performed with her son Callum on the opening night, said: ‘Guernsey: known for its human-friendly climate, the driver-friendly slowness of speed on the roads, the dual language, tomatoes and now for its splendid musician and writer-friendly literary festival. The organisers really know how to treat visiting artists and our team had a wonderful time.’

Evan Davis
BBC Newsnight presenter and economist Evan Davis

The speakers’ line-up included plenty of big names this year including BBC Newsnight presenter and economist Evan Davis, inspiring speaker Katie Piper and best-selling novelists Ruth Hogan and Rachel Joyce. The Festival also attracted Jenni Murray and Coronation Street actor and writer Denise Welch, TV presenter and author June Sarpong and BBC’s Doctor in the House, Rangan Chatterjee.

There were talks with the Guardian’s parliamentary sketch writer, John Crace, as well as its editor at large Gary Younge and travel writer Patrick Barkham.

Guernsey Literary Festival Director Claire Allen says that all who were involved ‘are delighted with this year’s success.’

‘Book festivals should be about books but they are also about something more – they are places where ideas can be proposed and challenged and where important issues discussed. Great literature really can be for everyone and that’s what we strive towards with the Guernsey Literary Festival.

‘We have to recognise the impact of the arts to society – for education, social inclusion, health and wellbeing and the economy.

In my mind, the primary reason to invest in the arts is for the inherent value of culture – entertaining, life enhancing as well as defining our personal and national identities. I also feel that events like the Guernsey Literary Festival are a fantastic vehicle for promoting Guernsey to the wider world as a centre for culture and creativity.’

‘Planning has already started on next year’s event, which will be held from 2-5th May 2019.”

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