Exciting, frustrating, challenging, hard work, fun, rewarding – running a festival is all of these things and more.
As we gear up for our next Festival, we thought you might enjoy a behind-the-scenes peek at the process involved.
Q: When did the Festival start and when does it take place?
The Huddersfield Literature Festival (HLF) was launched in 2006 and runs over 10 days in March.
Q: Who funds HLF?
A: A large part of our funding comes from the Arts Council. We also receive some financial and in-kind support from the University of Huddersfield and from various business sponsors. Finally, there are the ticket sales and our new Festival Friends scheme.
Q: How many people are involved in running the Festival?
A: We have a core team of five or six people, all of whom work on a part-time contract basis. Then there’s our Steering Committee of around 10 people, who meet four times a year, and a Volunteer team of approximately 50 people, who take on roles from helping to plan events to working as stewards and Event Managers. Full training is given, including customer service, disability awareness and policies training. Our committees are diverse and we welcome the contribution of a wide range of people and abilities (minimum age 18, no maximum age).
Q: When do you start planning each Festival?
A: Pretty much as soon as the previous Festival finishes! Because the Arts Council application is a lengthy process and there is a 12-week turnaround on decisions, we usually prepare our application in May and June, submit it in July and receive a decision by October for the Festival we are running the following March.
Our Festival Director meets with local partners, venues and organisations all year round and visits publishers in London to find out about forthcoming publications and forge relationships.
Q: How do you decide which performers to invite?
A: Anyone can apply via the Expression of Interest form on our website. Our Festival Director keeps a close eye on trade news and new publications, and is in continual contact with publishers.
Every year we aim to present a diverse range of performers and events, from major names at the Town Hall to new and original writers and poets, and from writing workshops to free family events. Although the Festival runs over 10 days, we have to work within our budget and limited available slots for events.
Q: What about accessibility?
A: We are committed to making the Festival as accessible and inclusive as possible. For this reason, we have invested in Access Guides for all of our key venues, which can be found on the website of AccessAble and are updated annually.
We also allocate some of our budget for Stagetext live subtitling at key events to make them accessible to audiences who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing.
Finally, we offer Disability Awareness training to our volunteer team.
Q: How do you let people know about the Festival?
Our feedback forms tell us that most people find out about the Festival through our brochure; we also have a brand new website and promote HLF on social media outlets.
As Huddersfield doesn’t have an Arts Centre, we rely on our Festival Champions to help place brochures around the area and we put banners up in key sites in the town centre. We also work closely with our partners and venues to promote Festival events.
Finally, there is word of mouth – if you are a fan of the Festival, please tell all your family and friends about what’s on offer.