Around 12,000 people attended the first edition of Words Weekend in Gateshead over the weekend.
The new spoken word festival from Fane Productions took place at Sage Gateshead, in Tyne and Wear, from Friday to Sunday (6th–8th December). Around 65 events took place with diversity and accessibility at the heart of the festival; 40% of the programme was free and everything was gold standard accessible, organisers said. The programme showcased writing from the North East alongside authors such as 2019 Booker prize-winner Bernardine Evaristo, Michael Morpurgo, Ben Okriand Elif Shafak. Turner Prize-winner Grayson Perry made his Gateshead debut, festival ambassador Liv Little hosted a gal-dem takeover and music performances included the reunion of Gil-Scott Heron’s old band.
Alex Fane, Fane’s m.d., said: “We are thrilled by how many people came to our first festival this weekend at Sage Gateshead. Words Weekend is a commitment to the future: not to rely on what has been done before and to instigate change wherever possible. We wanted to create a new kind of literary festival centred around three core principles: diversity, accessibility and the best culture the UK has to offer. Equally as important is our commitment to pay authors fairly on a favoured nations fee structure, something we hope will become industry standard. We’ll be back at Sage Gateshead in 2021 and now look forward to the next Words Weekend at The Lowry in March 2020.”
Tickets are now on sale for the second Words Weekend festival at The Lowry in Salford featuring writers such as Simon Armitage, Max Porter, Emma Jane Unsworth and Nikesh Shukla. The festival takes place from 27th-29th March 2020. Four additional Words Weekend festivals are planned for 2020 including London next summer. For more information visit wordsweekend.com.