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by Kirsteen Paterson
28 March 2024
Aye Write book festival shelved as Creative Scotland rejects funding bid

Janey Godley and Nicola Sturgeon appeared at Aye Write in 2023 | Alamy

Aye Write book festival shelved as Creative Scotland rejects funding bid

One of Scotland's biggest book festivals has been shelved after Creative Scotland refused it funding.

Aye Write has been welcoming audiences to events in Glasgow for almost 20 years.

Last year's programme featured a sell-out event with Nicola Sturgeon and Janey Godley, when more than 120 sessions were held across 10 days.

Staged at venues across the city, the festival links in to efforts to boost literacy in the city and encourage residents to use library services.

Authors including Richard Dawkins, Val McDermid, Darren McGarvey, Peter May, Edwin Morgan, Ian Rankin and Jackie Kay have all taken part in the publicly-run event since its inception.

Political figures like Alastair Campbell and Jess Phillips have also showcased their books there.

But this year's event is off after national arts agency Creative Scotland turned down its £77,500 funding bid.

The sum is less than that granted for an "explicit" film, Rein, which was to feature "non-simulated" and "hardcore" sex acts. 

The agency announced it would seek to recover the cash after an outcry over the use of public money.

Glasgow Life, the council-owned body which produces Aye Write and the associated Wee Write festival for younger readers, has said it cannot fund the events itself.

Instead, "pop-up" sessions are planned. However, details of these have not been released.

Sturgeon, who represents Glasgow Southside, has called the development "really bad news".

Wee Write, which connects with local schools, was to celebrate its 10th anniversary with this year's programme.

A spokesperson said: "The Aye Write and Wee Write book festivals celebrate the joy of reading, writing and books, bringing audiences and authors together.

"Their delivery is dependent on securing external funding and while bids for funding support continue to exceed monies available, especially during the current difficult economic climate, some events will inevitably miss out."

The statement went on: "Our 2024 funding application to Creative Scotland was not successful so Aye Write and Wee Write will not be able to take place as festivals this year. We appreciate this will cause considerable disappointment.

"Glasgow Life will organise some pop-up Aye Write events during 2024 and will develop an application for multi-year funding starting in 2025 which, if successful, means a return for the festivals next year."

Creative Scotland said: "We recognise the significance of Aye Write to audiences and the literature sector and understand that this is disappointing news.

"The National Lottery open fund for organisations remains available to Aye Write to apply for further funding and we welcome future applications.

"As demand for these funds continues to increase, Creative Scotland also continues to advocate for more resources to support culture and creativity across Scotland."

Sturgeon, who is set to publish her memoirs, told followers on social media: "I know money is tight but very much hope that a way is found to get Aye Write back on track. Books, culture generally, are so vital to our wellbeing – and never more so than in the troubled times we live in today.

"Book festivals are opportunities to celebrate the wonder of literature and those who create it. We mustn't lose that."

Bestselling author Christopher Brookmyre commented: "Really disappointed that Aye Write has been cancelled due to a lack of public funding. It has been one of the biggest fixtures on Scotland's cultural calendar for well over a decade, and it always meant a lot to me to take part in my hometown book festival."

Publisher Canongate said: "We're sorry to hear the news that won't be going ahead this year – it's a lively and absorbing festival, and one of the stars of the festival circuit. Wishing the best for the team that puts such careful, hard work into its planning and running."

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