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Baillie Gifford Exit Threatens Future of UK Literary Festivals

by | Jun 12, 2024 | News

There are concerns about the future of literary festivals in the UK following the decision by several festivals to sever their partnerships with investment group Baillie Gifford.  The Hay Festival, the Edinburgh International Book Fair, Wigtown, Stratford, Borders Book Festival, Wimbledon and Cheltenham have all pulled out following author withdrawals and pressure from campaign group Fossil Free Books (FFB).

 

The Stratford Literary Festival told the Bookseller that Baillie Gifford’s sponsorship amounted to 50% of its funding.  Cheltenham Literature Festival said Baillie Gifford had contributed almost 20% of its corporate funding, and Wimbledon BookFest described Baillie Gifford as its “second biggest funder”.

 

Annie Ashworth, director of Stratford Literary Festival, said: “We are a minnow compared to Hay and Edinburgh, but the impact is still an absolute body blow. We’re a much smaller festival, we haven’t got the outgoings that they have, so we can be much more nimble, but finding sponsorship in this sector is a challenge in this economic climate. We’ve got our work cut out to make sure we replace that money.”

 

Fossil Free Books told the Bookseller its aim was not to target the festivals but to put pressure on Baillie Gifford to divest from “funding climate breakdown or human rights abuses” linked to the situation in Gaza.  It added: “While we recognise that funding pressures are very real—thanks in large part to the significant cuts that have been imposed on the arts—plenty of festivals are able to operate without taking money from institutions with links to climate breakdown or human rights abuses.”

 

 

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