Wigtown Book Festival in £25k appeal to secure future

Wigtown Book Festival in £25k appeal to secure future

Wigtown Book Festival has launched a £25,000 fundraising appeal to help secure its future following the financial challenges of Covid-19. 

The "Book it and Spread the Word" initiative has been announced as the town in Dumfries and Galloway prepares to welcome audiences back after last year’s entirely digital event. Organisers say this year's edition poses even more of a financial challenge than last year's with box office income squeezed by Covid-19 restrictions while costs remain unchanged.

Running from 22nd September to 4th October, it will still be “rich with fun, wit, wisdom, history and science plus red squirrels", organisers said. Headliners include Val McDermid, Alexander McCall Smith, Salena Godden, A C Grayling and Laura Bates. 

The Scottish festival will be one of the biggest of its kind in the country during 2021. However, it has been scaled back and will take place over 12 days rather than the usual 10, as part of its extensive Covid-19 security measures 

Members of the public are encouraged to support the £25,000 appeal by either booking a ticket, telling friends and family about the festival, buying a book from the online bookshop or donating to the fundraising campaign. “A lot of this year’s events will also be streamed live online as we want to reach the widest audience and we particularly welcome donations from online viewers,” organisers said. 

Adrian Turpin (pictured), the festival’s artistic director, warned public support is vital for the festival to continue. He said: “The prospect of hosting events in Wigtown again is hugely exciting. A lot of effort has gone into ensuring we can deliver a festival that has the same spirit as ever but in a Covid-safe environment.  

“At the same time, it is hard to overestimate how financially challenging this year is — even more so than last year. Covid restrictions mean that our opportunities for box office income in 2021 are severely limited, yet many of our running costs remain fixed.  

“The income we would usually earn from tickets sales supports not just the festival but our charitable activities throughout the year, such as our work with young people. So despite committed support from Dumfries & Galloway Council, Holywood Trust and other funders, balancing the books will be extremely difficult without additional public support.” 

Activities at this year’s festival will include squirrel walks with writer and wildlife rehabilitator Polly Pullar, various musical performances, the annual Magnusson Lecture and the announcement of the winner of the Anne Brown Essay Prize for Scotland. The festival will also feature the awards ceremony for the Wigtown Poetry Prize, which celebrates and nurtures poetry in Scotland’s three indigenous languages: English, Scottish Gaelic and Scots.  

The town’s new free outdoor venue The Gardens hosts a large screen and informal seating, billed by organisers as "Wigtown's answer to Wimbledon's Murray Mound". Selected live audience events will also be streamed from Wigtown to audiences around the world. 

Extensive Covid-19 safety measures are being put in place across the festival, including longer gaps between events and reduced venue capacities.  

For more information or to donate, visit the Wigtown Book Festival website.