Speaking at festivals is an important part of a writer’s life but many are understandably concerned about being seen to endorse regimes that place severe restrictions on freedom of expression.
English PEN have produced a set of guidelines for authors attending literary festivals and international events. We would encourage authors to read these guidelines if you have concerns about whether to attend a festival or event.
English PEN’s position – which we share – is that it is an individual decision about whether to attend, withdraw or boycott an event. They suggest considering the following questions before coming to a decision:
- Where is the event taking place?
- Are there restrictions on what I can say?
- Who is funding the festival?
- Does attendance mean endorsement? How might my presence be used?
- Is it a public event? Who is the audience?
- If you have already accepted an invitation, what might withdrawing mean?
- What, if any, are the potential risks associated with such activities?