Friday, June 2, 2017

Festivals and Workshops: Bradford Literature Festival

Welcome to Elaine Roberts with another in her interesting series about literary festivals and workshops.

This month I have interviewed Georgina Lennon and Syima Aslam from the Bradford Literature Festival. Welcome to the RNA blog. 

Can you tell us something about your festival, how it came about and how long its been running?
The Bradford Literature Festival (BLF) is an international festival based in Bradford, the heart of Yorkshire and, the literature hub of the North. Hailed as one of the most inspirational festivals in the UK, BLF is fast becoming a key event in the UK's cultural calendar. Over 10 days, our events celebrate the written and spoken word on the page, stage, screen, and in public forums, offering ideas
Joanna Trollope
to delight, challenge and entertain inclusive, diverse audiences. We are passionate about education; inspiring a love affair with words and boosting literacy is at the heart of all our public and schools’ events. Culture Squared, a community interest company, established to create high quality cultural activity that builds stronger communities through dialogue, cohesion and the promotion of intercultural fluency, runs BLF.
 The festival’s schools’ initiative, which runs alongside the general programme, holds free events for students throughout the Bradford District, engaging with and inspiring more than 7,000 young people in 2016. This programme is designed to foster a love of reading, boost self-belief and confidence, and better equip young people to respect difference and accept others.  In seeking to reach the many communities of Bradford, the festival presents authors and speakers from culturally diverse backgrounds, and it attracts an audience that is 48% BAME.  The audience grew threefold between 2015 and 2016, when over 31,000 people attended events.

The Bradford Literature Festival, in association with Provident Financial Group, returns for its third edition from 30 June until 9 July 2017, celebrating the written and spoken word in all its
Milly Johnson
wonderful forms. With over 300 events packed into iconic venues across 10 days, the festival brings together world-renowned authors and public figures for an intellectual extravaganza, which explores the links between literature, history, science, sport, music and art from around the world. The programme ranges from celebrations of literary heroes such as the Brontës, to a dedicated weekend of comics and manga, with discussions on everything from World affairs to the science of immortality, gender politics and hymen obsessions – at Bradford Literature Festival, no subject is out of bounds.
2017 will also see the return of the festival’s iconic free family day events in Bradford’s City Park, with themes including superheroes, fairy tales, myths & legends, bears and, of course, Harry Potter. With an exciting line up of performances, workshops and film screenings, the festival will take over the city centre creating a literary themed wonderland of fun for all the family.

Who are your main speakers this year?
This year’s festival features an unrivalled range of participants, including authors Germaine Greer, Joanna Trollope, Vivian French, John Boyne, Juno Dawson, Shems Freidlander and A.A Dhand; poets Jackie Kay, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Ben Okri, Lemn Sissay and Anthony Anaxogorou; politicians such as Baroness Syeeda Warsi, Harriet Harman and Rachel Reeves; and international journalists including Jenni Murray, Mona Eltahawy, Christina Lamb, Boyd Tonkin and Gary Younge. BBC Radio 1's Gemma Cairney, YA author Melvyn Burgess, racing car driver and ex host of Top Gear Tiff Needle and Indian Politician Shashi Tharoor.

As our blog is for writers can you tell me how your festival would benefit our members? 
Each year the festival programmes a whole host of events dedicated to ‘The Art of Writing and
Ben Okri
Politics of Publishing’, this is everything from expert panel discussions on particular genres, to writing workshops and insider information from publishers and literary agents. This year the strand will feature industry related events such as ‘The Politics of Indie Publishing,’ ‘Book Bidding Wars’ and ‘Meet the Literary Agent’; workshops such as ‘Opinion Writing’, ‘How Not to Write Bad Sex’, ‘Writing and Thriving in the Digital Age’, and ‘Writing and Publishing Picture Books for Children’; as well as genre focused events which will look at everything from crime writing and journaling to erotic literature. There’s something for all writers at the Bradford Literature Festival, whether they would like practical information to improve their own writing and to help them get published, or to explore new genres and hear from experts who are already thriving in the literary world.

Is there anything to enter (maybe a writing competition), if so could details be provided?
 This is something that the festival will be looking to introduce in 2018, however at the moment we do not run any writing competitions.

How about staying over for the whole event. Where can people stay?
 Combining a visit to the Bradford Literature Festival with a relaxing break is the perfect way to experience all that Bradford has to offer. Whether you want to escape to Brontë Country, experience
Jeanette Winterson
the World Heritage Site of Saltaire, or stay in the centre of Bradford to enjoy the city’s rich heritage, you’ll be spoilt for choice for somewhere to stay in and around Bradford.
We are proud to have the Midland Hotel as the festival’s hotel partner. Dating back to the 1890s, the historic hotel was built by the Midland Railway Company at the height of Bradford’s global influence, and became the natural choice for rich and famous visitors. The hotel’s imposing façade and stunning Victorian interiors have attracted guests such as The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Laurel & Hardy as well as literary legends such as Bram Stoker. The Midland Hotel offers special rates for festival goers if booking accommodation for nights between 30th June – 09th July. Please mention the festival when making a booking.
There are a vast range of accommodation options in Bradford to suit all different tastes and price ranges. For a full list of hotels and B&B’s please take a look at the Visit Bradford accommodation pages at http://www.visitbradford.com/accommodation/
What does it cost to attend?
The festival is committed to making all its events as inclusive and accessible as possible, which is why our ticket prices remain low and many of our events are free. All our family fun day events are free of charge and open to the public, we also offer a range of free children’s events throughout the festival. Standard ticket prices for range from £6 for the vast majority of events to £10 for multiple line-up events. The only exception is our full day ‘Bronte Heritage Tour’ priced at £35 
We also offer discounted and free tickets to the following groups: registered disabled, over 65s, students, benefits recipients or those living in social housing and refugees.
Do workshops/talks fill up quickly?
Many of our annual events have become extremely popular and as the festival has grown our audience has also increased dramatically, therefore and we would always advise that interested parties book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

How much time does it take to organise the festival?
Organising the festival is an intense, year-round process. We often say that it’s impossible to understand until you have lived through a full festival year and seen the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes. We are lucky to have some fantastic sponsors such as our Title Partner, Provident Financial Group, and support from Arts Council England, Bradford MDC and the University of Bradford, without whom it would be impossible to create an event of this scale and quality. We also rely on a dedicated team of volunteers to make the festival happen, our volunteering scheme is currently open for applicants and more information can be found on the festival website.

Dates for this year and next:
30th June – 9th July 2017
29th June – 8th July 2018

Link to website
www.bradfordlitfest.co.uk

Email for queries

About Elaine Roberts:
Elaine is a member of the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme and the SWWJ and is currently working on a family saga. She has sold short stories worldwide and enjoys attending RNA events such as the London chapter and our annual conference. Elaine is a great fan of writing retreats either week long by the sea with friends or one-day retreats with fellow writers in her hometown of Dartford. Elaine runs a writing blog along with writer, Francesca Capaldi Burgess called WriteMindWritePlace.






Thank you for taking the time to talk to the RNA blog. We wish the festival every success.

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