Tired but happy, the inaugural Surrey Heath Literary Festival is complete. Think the organisers took on quite a big job to create a four-day festival in such a short time. Not quite four days in reality, as two of the days were just a single evening presentation.
In brief, here’s the good and the bad.
- Every event ran as planned
- Every event drew high praise from their audiences
- Most authors are hoping for an invitation to next year’s Festival
- Strong demand from the audience for a 2012 Festival
- Impressive expertise shown by everyone in Camberley Theatre
- Hayley Long’s talk to students at Collingwood College went down a storm
- Over 300 short stories submitted by local children to the short story competition, and the prize giving event was a joyous occasion.
- Success of the Big Read Debate of Nigel Farndale’s The Blasphemer due to stimulating contribution from the panel.
- Terrific support from bookseller Waterstones throughout the Festival
- Pent up demand for a regular writer’s workshop
- Great to have support from our MP Michael Gove, at the prize giving ceremony and the Big Read Debate.
- Juliette Foster’s ‘in conversation’ sessions with the authors added a professionalism and intellectual gravitas to the event, which the audience and authors enjoyed and appreciated.
I won’t say bad – here’s the not so good:
- Audience numbers weren’t as high as expected or needed
- We didn’t get the scheduling of the events quite right
- We probably need a couple of bigger names in any future festival, and publicity for the events need to start much earlier.
Finally, it’s a pleasure to thank the contributions of the team of organisers: Trish and Steph from the Camberley Theatre, Pippa and Helen from Watersones, Kay and Louise from Surrey Libraries, and not forgetting Lesley from author’s agents Pollinger Limited. Massive thanks to Juliette Foster for reading four books for the festival, one for the Big Read Debate Panel, and three for hosting the ‘in conversation with Juliette talks’. We also received help from Craig of Creative Presentations in Bagshot. Without all their help, there’d never have been a festival.
Ooops: mustn’t neglect to thank Paul Deach for all the superb publicity in the Surrey Heath Residents Weblog, and coverage in the Camberley News & Mail.