Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YOGAZ to 80360 or send an email»
York Literature Festival hosts home-grown talent and quality guests
YORK Literature Festival is a labour of love, but a welcome one nevertheless for committee chairman Miles Salter.
“I’ve done it voluntarily since City of York Council pulled out in July 2009, and sometimes I think I’m mad, but I keep trying because I think an arts’ festival in York has incredible currency,” says Miles, at the outset of the festival today.
“We’re in one of the most visited cities in the UK with an easily navigable city centre and lots of great venues. The ingredients are all there.”
Looking to the future, the York writer, storyteller, musician and reviewer for The Press, wishes for some joined-up thinking to go with the joined-up writing. “It would just need some goodwill, a bit of cash and some smart alliances,” argues Miles.
“Imagine how great it would be if York Theatre Royal, York Museums Trust, the Grand Opera House, City Screen, The Duchess, Fibbers, York Libraries, the National Centre For Early Music and the University of York and York St John got together to create a compelling programme. It would be something very special indeed.”
In the meantime, the 2012 event will run from today until Sunday after a year’s hiatus, the fifth festival being slimmer with fewer events spread over fewer days, but with the emphasis on quality.
Hence the presence of political leviathan Tony Benn and Roy Bailey with their Writing On The Wall show, on Saturday at Temple Hall, York St John University.
“The festival has always had a social conscience and Mr Benn’s record as a man who uses words skilfully, as well as his work as a peace campaigner, chimes perfectly with that creed,” says Miles.
A mix of artforms is important for the festival too, Miles suggests. “We like to have a mixture of different things, including author events, film, theatre, storytelling and comedy. The York Talent cabaret is an example of this: a great mix of local talent,” he says.
“This gig will happen after Tony Benn’s show and will feature talent with York connections, including Mike Barfield, who used to write the gags for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, plus poet Anneliese Emmans Dean, folk duo Union Jill, irreverent singer Rob Nightingale and performance poet Henry Raby.”
Showcasing York’s gifted performers and writers is a key strand of the festival, Miles believes. “There are lots of talented people in our city,” he says.
“I think one of the things the festival aims to do is to highlight the talent that exists locally in writing, comedy, music and theatre and give some of those people a platform. They may not be household names but lots of local people deserve a chance to share what they do.”
The festival is being run entirely by volunteers, in the absence of council funding. “The festival is entirely self funded,” says Miles.
“We’ve been much smarter this year about ticket sales and have an income of approximately £5,000 – very small beer, but for us it’s a massive step forwards. We’re yet to get an Arts Council grant, but maybe next year...”
For the full festival programme and ticket details, visit yorkliteraturefestival.co.uk