Thanks to your support Bradford MDC have changed their mind!

We are very relieved to bring you the good news that Bradford Metropolitan District Council has decided to reverse its proposed cut to the Festival’s grant.

We have had fantastic support from people right across the board and we’d like to thank everyone who took the time to come forward and make their views known. Your support made all the difference and it has been heartening to be reminded how important literature is to people and how much the Festival means to Bradford District.

We are very grateful to Bradford Council for listening and having the courage to reverse this proposal and to MP Kris Hopkins and Labour’s parliamentary candidate John Grogan for all the support they have given us and the hard work they have put into this behind the scenes.

As well as continuing their support for Ilkley Literature Festival, the Council has also allocated £115,000 over three years to help other local festivals, including our partners the World Curry Festival, expand and develop, which is great news for Bradford.

Bradford has shown us a fine example of democracy in action and now we’ll be carrying on with our preparations for Words in the City, our June poetry weekend, and the Festival in October so we can give the district the exciting Festivals it deserves.

Rachel Feldberg,
Festival Director

John Simpson backs Ilkley Literature Festival

john-simpson-1000788We have received heavyweight support from legendary journalist John Simpson in our campaign against funding cuts from Bradford MDC.

The BBC World Affairs Editor opened the prestigious event in 2010 and signed copies of his critically acclaimed book, Unreliable Sources: How the Twentieth Century Was Reported, his fourteenth publication in a list of works which includes two novels.

While on a private visit to the town last week Mr Simpson met with local MP Kris Hopkins, who took the opportunity to brief the journalist on the Council’s plans to withdraw support for the Ilkley Literature Festival.

Mr Simpson – who famously entered Afghanistan in 2001 by disguising himself in a burqa – has since written to the Keighley and Ilkley MP to say how “sad” he was to hear of the funding threat now hanging over the event.

He continued: “I have very pleasant memories of it, and I remember a couple I met there telling me how important the Festival was for the entire region, and how it kept them in touch with the arts and cultural life of the UK and the wider world.  Festivals like this play a big part in the life of a community, and I very much hope the decision to cut the funding will be reversed.”

Kris Hopkins commented:

“Since its creation in 1973, the Ilkley Literature Festival has grown into the oldest and largest event of its type in the North of England.

“This is down in no small part to the unrivalled quality of literary figures and headlines names in attendance down the years, including John Simpson himself who has made two appearances.

“The support funding provided by the Council returns financial and cultural rewards multiplied many times over to the district, through increased numbers of visitors and extra tourism spend. These benefits are in addition to the significantly increased profile the town enjoys throughout the duration of the event, and beyond.

“I would urge local residents and, indeed, everyone who cares about the future of the Ilkley Literature Festival to make their views known by contributing to the Council’s budget consultation exercise which closes later this month.  This can be done by logging onto the Bradford Council website.

“The Festival must be protected and it is crucial that all of us who care about the event’s future play our part.”

Festival Director, Rachel Feldberg said:

“We are incredibly grateful for all the support we have received in response to our campaign against the cuts. Hundreds people have expressed their support for the Festival, which is invaluable in helping to change the Council’s mind.

“Having the backing of a celebrated name like John Simpson shows how important the Festival is, not just at a regional but also national level.”

If you have not yet contacted Bradford Council about the proposed budget cuts, please do so by clicking here.

The numbers speak for themselves:
290 live literature events
26,000 people
33 weekly workshops for teenage writers
60 weekly creative writing and reading workshops for 8-11 year olds
An economic value of over £1million for the Bradford district


Ilkley Literature Festival: A Great Record on Sponsorship and Philanthropy

What a shame that Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid isn’t aware of Ilkley Literature Festival’s great record on sponsorship and philanthropy over the last decade. Earned (ticket sales) and contributed income (donations, sponsorship from a raft of supportive local, regional and national companies and our fantastic Friends organisation) makes up 62% of our total income and has done for years.

Amazing to think that over the last 5 years alone sponsorship from local, regional and national companies has contributed £189,575 to the Festival. Raising this kind of money in the North of England, and particularly this side of the Pennines, is not easy – even industry experts acknowledge how hard it is so it’s no surprise we’re very proud of what we’ve achieved.

These days we have a portfolio of over 50 highly valued business partners from small one person bands to big national companies – 23 different companies joined in sponsoring last year’s Festival. And our partners don’t just sponsor events – they do all sorts of imaginative things, from giving Festival tickets to carers at local hospices to encouraging secondary schools to bring groups of pupils to an event about economics or arranging transport for local primary schools to see a well known children’s author.

Alongside that we have lots of initiatives around individual giving, reminding people that, like most literature festivals, we’re a charity and encouraging people to make a donation whenever they can. We even used crowd funding to help support our commission from Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

How the Culture Secretary missed that big donate button on our website we’ll never know!

Rachel Feldberg, Festival Director