Sep 25, 2020

A creative approach to 2021

The Guernsey Literary Festival, one of the island’s major annual arts events, will not be held in the same format next May because of the ongoing uncertainty over the Covid 19 pandemic.

The difficulty in getting UK and international writers to commit while the situation in the UK and abroad is so uncertain, is an important consideration in the committee’s decision not to plan a Festival of the same scale next year.

But the organisers hope to be able to offset these difficulties by using a creative planning approach to bring the people of Guernsey different literary events of good quality and interest throughout the year combining digital and in person events.

Now would be the time to begin planning the 2021 event and signing up authors and speakers, but the current state of events makes this too precarious, says Festival Director Claire Allen. For a start, speakers are simply not keen to commit themselves at present.

‘As you know, we had to cancel this year’s Festival with just a few weeks’ notice and we simply can’t afford for the same thing to happen again next year. The Guernsey Literary Festival is planned, organised and run by a team of volunteers and for them to see their hard work lead to nothing for a second consecutive year would be heart breaking,’ says Claire Allen.

The 2020 Festival, scheduled for the 29 April to 3 May, had nearly 70 events planned, mostly with writers and speakers from the UK, as well as a full education and community programme. When it became apparent in March that the guest speakers would not be able to come, there was no alternative but to cancel the event and refund the considerable ticket sales.     

Ben Fogle’s event planned for 8th October this year has been rescheduled  to 1 October 2021. All ticket holders will be contacted with the option of either attending the rescheduled event or opting for a refund.

Going forward, in 2021 the Guernsey Literary Festival plans to concentrate even more on highlighting local writing and creative talent with a series of events – talks, workshops, performances and discussions - organised throughout the year. These are already being discussed. 

The Poems on the Move competition, next year to be judged by award-winning poet Kate Clanchy, and the Write Stuff writing competition for school pupils, will also definitely be held, as in past years. 

The festival is also looking at options of organising digital events for schools as part of its educational programme. It may also be possible to organise some other major individual events over the year if the pandemic conditions change for the better, or to look at options for hosting hybrid events with a live audience and a live streamed speaker programme.

‘And then we can look forward to 2022 when, let’s all hope, there will be conditions which will enable us to have a major festival to the very high standard we’ve set over the years. We’ve been forced to reconsider how we deliver our programme of events in 2021 but we will be keener than ever to come back as soon as we can’, says Claire Allen.


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