Oxford Lit Fest u-turns on author payment

Oxford Lit Fest u-turns on author payment

The Oxford Literary Festival has changed its mind over paying authors to appear at the event.

The festival told The Bookseller it has “rebalanced its budgets” on the back of the “strength of feeling” on the issue and will now pay authors £150 to speak at its 2017 festival and for all future festivals.

Earlier this year author Philip Pullman resigned as patron of the festival in protest at authors not being paid to attend the event. At the time the festival’s management said it could not afford to run the event if it had to pay authors, but then later said it would "meet with all interested parties to discuss how to achieve payment of fees for all speakers" from 2017.

A spokesperson for the Oxford Literary Festival said: "The Oxford Literary Festival today announces that it will pay an author fee of £150 to all authors speaking at the 2017 festival and thereafter. We have conferred with interested parties and, recognising the strength of feeling, have rebalanced our budgets to enable this to happen."

The spokesperson added: "We will announce the first of our speakers for the 2017 festival in the middle of December. We can promise another inspiring and diverse Oxford Literary Festival."

Joanne Harris, festival patron, author and a member of the Society of Author’s management committee, was first to communicate the decision on Twitter.

“Great news! After consultation with with the Society of Authors from this year, the Oxford LitFest will be paying a fee to all of its authors," she said. "This is really excellent news, which I hope will lead to fairer treatment for authors by festivals all over the country. IT CAN BE DONE…I know it's tough for festival organizers, who work terrifically hard to make these events happen, but I know Oxford will have our support.”

At the time of his resignation from the role as patron of the festival, Pullman said: “In the early days the Oxford festival was a small-scale and much more informal affair, run on a shoestring. In recent years it’s become much larger and grander, putting on an air of being ‘prestigious’ and ‘exclusive’ and flourishing its large array of corporate sponsors,” he said. “It seems contradictory to me to lay on lavish ‘black tie dinners’ and at the same time claim that it can’t afford to pay speakers."