The Guildford Book Festival is appealing for funds for the first time in its 31-year history, after learning the Covid-19 pandemic could make this October's edition its last.
The charity is reliant on sponsorship and advertising to generate the £20,000 it costs each year to stage the festival. But with local businesses hard-hit by the lockdown and a fall in other funding, it is facing a significant shortfall in its income which could mean that the 2020 event, taking place between 4th and 11th October, is its last.
To safeguard its future, The Guildford Book Festival has launched a fundraising appeal on its website.
Those supporting the festival include Peter James, patron Adele Parks (pictured) and Alison Weir. They are due to join the line-up in October alongside Charles Spencer, Joanna Trollope, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Richard Osman and Susie Dent.
Parks said: “Guildford Book Festival is a highlight in my calendar: both professionally and personally. For over 30 years this annual event has brought culture, stimulation, education and entertainment to our doorstep. As it is so well established, it always attracts the very biggest names in the literary world, as well as supporting new talent and debuts; GBF is recognised as one of the very best festivals in the country.
“GBF fosters an important sense of community as book festivals are the perfect place to celebrate a love of literature with fellow fans, see favourite authors talk about their work and, of course, discover new writers and illustrators. It would be an unutterable loss to our community, to the book industry and to readers present and future if we can’t support and save this wonderful cultural event.”
Alongside the festival itself, funds raised through ticket sales enable organisers to deliver their schools’ programme, which takes bestselling children’s authors into the area's schools free of charge.
Jane Beaton, co-director of The Guildford Book Festival, said: “Guildford Book Festival has been at the heart of our community for 31 years, bringing leading authors and lively debate to our town, our university and into our schools.
“We are determined that the 2020 festival will go ahead this October, and we very much hope that we will be able to welcome audiences to our venues across the town. If, however, the government’s guidance prohibits live events taking place, we will present the festival online.
“But we are currently facing the prospect of this being our last festival, and we are launching our first ever appeal to ask the public for their support.”