Festivals Campaign: Update

Martin Reed

Martin Reed

Martin leads the SoA's Communications team. He oversees our strategic communications and campaign-based activities, including PR, social media, events and partnerships.

Literary festivals’ payment of authors has been prominent in the news this month, prompted by Philip Pullman’s resignation as Patron of Oxford Literary Festival. The SoA President resigned his role at OLF because they do not pay authors.

We welcome this principled stance by our President and the support it has attracted. Last year we conducted a survey and issued practical guidance for engaging authors and ‘Minimum Practice Guidelines’ for festivals.

It was particularly heartening to see that many festivals also believe authors should be paid and issued statements in support – including Huddersfield, Manx Litfest and Marlborough.

Pullman’s resignation prompted Amanda Craig to call for a boycott of festivals which don’t pay speakers and she published a letter asking others to sign up:

For too long, authors have been persuaded to give our services to the public for free – even though the public is paying in good faith to see us. We are the only people at festivals who are not paid, and yet without us the festivals could not exist.

Writing is a vocation but it is also a profession, and it is time we all stiffened our spines, dug in our heels and said no.

We support those who choose to take collective action in the hope of improving terms for all, but we are not as a society suggesting a blanket boycott. We encourage everyone to consider what they are being offered and make an informed decision about the fees, terms and treatment they are willing to accept.

OLF have now announced that they will review their policies and consider introducing author fees after for 2017 festival has taken place. We are pleased that they have agreed to meet with us to discuss. 

We are grateful for the supportive statement issued by the Royal Literary Fund. The RLF not only echo our concerns but also offer practical support by sponsoring selected speakers and funding their travel, accomodation and a decent fee. 

We will continue to work with all festivals, funders, publishers, agents and other parties to improve terms and treatment for all.

Meanwhile, on Twitter, authors are using the hashtag #litfestshoutout to highlight those festivals who treat their speakers well. 

Pullman resigns as Patron of Oxford Literary Festival

Amanda Craig Calls for Boycott of Non-paying Festivals

SoA Festivals Survey Results

Practical guidance for Festivals Engaging Authors

Minimum Practice Guidelines for Literary Festivals

Festival Guidelines for Authors

Statement of Support from the RLF

The Royal Literary Fund – a charity to help authors

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