Wimbledon BookFest Receives Lifeline Grant - Press Release


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Wimbledon BookFest, London’s leading community based literary festival, has been awarded a grant as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) being administered by Arts Council England to help face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure they have a sustainable future.

Wimbledon BookFest is one of 1,385 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving urgently needed support, and one of only five organisations in the borough of Merton.

With a fifteen year track record in high quality community arts deliver in Merton and South West London, Wimbledon BookFest’s public and education programmes span socio-economic groups and communities to engage a wide audiences. Pre-2020, the Festival hosted 100+ events annually and attracted 20,000 attendees. Over 100 schools have taken part in BookFest’s ‘Word Up’ education initiatives, which includes author events and workshops, writing competitions, sixth form panels, film-making projects and volunteering opportunities.

Fiona Razvi, Festival Director said: ‘This news couldn’t have come at a better time for Wimbledon BookFest and is a fabulous endorsement of our work. We are beyond delighted and grateful for this support. Wimbledon BookFest is committed to being here for the long term delivering top class arts, culture and education for our community.

Earlier in the year we launched a community fundraising campaign and thanks to this, and the support of our sponsors, we were able to deliver a live weekend festival in September and a series of digital events. However, funding sources were drying up and the future was becoming uncertain. This news means we can continue moving forward with delivering our education programme for young people in South London, bringing authors and creative multi-media projects into schools, as well as live events to our community. It’s offered us a lifeline!’

In September, BookFest ran the ‘Last Days of Summer’ Live weekend festival on Wimbledon Common with speakers including David Cameron, Matthew Syed, Ruby Wax, Andy Hamilton, Lemn Sissay, David Nicholls, Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason, Nazir Afzal, Mervyn King and Black Lives Matter activist Patrick Hutchinson. Wimbledon BookFest is currently running its first digital festival featuring recordings of these live events.

The Word Up education programme features events with authors Michelle Paver and Patrice Lawrence filmed live and then digitally relayed to participating schools. For sixth formers, Critical Minds, a partnership with University of Roehampton, provides invaluable information about applying to university. In celebration of the work of black writers Wimbledon BookFest will donate a selection of books by black authors to the library of every Merton state school (5 for primary and 10 for secondary schools.) As a resource for schools, young film makers have produced a series of short interviews with authors and artists on the theme of ‘Black Lives – Hidden Stories’