Book festival looks to raise addition £25,000 after having to cut capacity

Wigtown Book Festival has launched a campaign to raise £25,000 by the end of October.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 11:08 am
Updated Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 11:09 am
Wigtown Book Festival is facing financial difficulties
Wigtown Book Festival is facing financial difficulties

This comes as the capacity for this year’s event, which takes place from September 22 to October 4, has been slimmed down to only a third of normal while still incurring much of the same costs.

With 120 events over 12 days, it will still be one of Scotland’s biggest arts festivals of the year.

The reduced capacity has meant an increase in ticket prices, but with a shortfall in income over expenditure still being felt the organisers have launched the Book It - And Spread the Word! campaign.

A statement said: “Last year - when we asked for donations instead of directly charging for tickets - our box office income was more than £100,000 less than usual.

"But, on the flip side, we had far fewer costs: no marquees, travel, accommodation, brochure print etc. The plusses and minuses more or less evened themselves out.

“This year is different. Our box-office revenue is severely constrained because we were not in a position to take the risk of hiring the main marquee, given the impossibility of taking out insurance against Covid-related cancellation.

"With Covid restrictions, our total venue capacity is around a third of usual. At the same time, the 2021 festival will again incur many of the fixed costs that a physical (as opposed to digital) festival entails.

“Reluctantly - and temporarily - we decided we had no option but to raise ticket prices this year. But a substantial potential gap between income and outgoings remains.

"Because of this we have decided this week to launch a fundraising campaign, with the aim of raising £25,000 by the end of October, additional to box-office sales.

“We are asking members of the public to Book It - And Spread the Word! The message is: if you value having the festival on your doorstep, please show your support by booking a ticket or buying a book from our bookshop. That way everyone wins.

“We are so looking forward to seeing so many familiar faces this autumn, and are optimistic that with your help we will weather the unique financial storm all cultural organisations across the UK are facing.”

Speakers taking part in person include novelists Val McDermid and Alexander McCall Smith, rugby legend Gavin Hastings and comedian Janey Godley.

They will be joined by a strong line-up of regional talent including:

Des Dillon: the Wigtownshire based author of the hugely popular Me an Ma Gal talks about his first novel for more than a decade;

Alexis Fleming: No Life Too Small tells the extraordinary story of the author’s animal hospice in Kirkcudbright;

Maggie Ritchie: Daisy Chain tells the story of two childhood friends from Kirkcudbright who attend Glasgow School of Art before the First World War;

Writers Karen Campbell and Joanne Mackay talk about The Stove’s Atlas Pandemica project;

Kathleen Hart discusses her bestselling memoir Devorgilla Days, about how she found healing in Wigtown;

There will be a performance of the play Lot 52 (about emigration from Annan) and music by the Galloway Consort;

There will also be red squirrel walks with naturalist Polly Pullar plus stargazing and bird walks celebrating the landscape.

As ever there will be a strong programme for children and young people.

While the emphasis for 2021 is on physical first, the festival will also include hybrid and online only events.Meanwhile, a new outdoor venue, The Gardens, is being opened up as a place where people can gather and chat, enjoy events and relax.

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