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Leicester's ever-evolving literary festival receives important Arts Council grant to help grow the city's annual celebration of the written word

Posted by ap507 at Oct 18, 2016 01:21 PM |
University of Leicester’s free public festival of the written and spoken word from 16-19 November

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 18 October 2016

  • Literary Leicester, which runs between Wednesday 16 November and Saturday 19 November, has secured £12,875 to put towards the development of its literary outreach projects 
  • The money was awarded by the Arts Council as part of its Grants for the Arts programme 
  • Literary Leicester aims to reach all people from all backgrounds to encourage them to get involved in literature

A leading festival of the written and spoken word opens in Leicester next month (November) with a glittering line-up of events that are free and open to the public.

Among the contributors are best-selling children's author and creator of Tracy Beaker, Dame Jacqueline Wilson, and celebrated feminist writer and playwright of works including The Life and Loves of a She Devil, Fay Weldon. 

The Literary Leicester festival has been given a forward-looking cash boost which will help the already esteemed annual event further develop its quality and reputation. 

The University of Leicester received the £12,875 Arts Council grant in September, with the 2016 festival just a few weeks away – running between Wednesday 16 November and Saturday 19 November. 

The funding has already been utilised in this year's budget and has been channelled into schemes to encourage people from different backgrounds to try its lectures, talks and workshops. 

The event's co-ordinators also wanted the Arts Council money to help them focus on encouraging BME communities and those outside the academic sphere, who might not have otherwise considered literary events. 

Organiser Dr Harry Whitehead, of the University's School of Arts, worked with the Development and Alumni Relations Office (DARO), specifically Seamus Grant and Christopher Shaw, with help from the Research and Enterprise Division’s Clare Hudson to write the bid. 

Their pitch explained the University's vision for how it wanted the festival, now in its ninth year, to progress. 

In the application to the Arts Council, Dr Whitehead wrote: “We want to grow the numbers of people attending our free events who might not usually think about going to a Literary Festival, for example specifically people from BME groups and those who have not studied within higher education. The festival is for everyone.” 

Speaking this week, Dr Whitehead said: “The money will be spent on a wider range of festival events, letting the world know about what we have to offer, holding showcase events throughout the year, and helping us run this ever-growing Leicester festival more professionally. 

“For the past eight years, a committee of enthusiastic academics has worked very hard to develop the festival, alongside many willing departments and individuals from the university administration. 

“Now we have reached a point where some professional co-ordination assistance is needed and we have funding for some external help as well. 

“All this means the festival is becoming ever more widely known both local, regionally and slowly but surely across the nation.” 

Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England, said: “Everyone, no matter what their background or where they live, should have opportunities to enjoy arts and culture, so it’s great to see our funding supporting the University of Leicester to get more people taking part in its Literary Leicester Festival. The festival has become a great addition to the city’s cultural calendar with a line-up of free events that we hope will be a chance for people to be entertained and discover something new.”

As well as improving the festival, the money will also be used to support a number of 'showcase events' from October 2016 to June 2017. 

These include celebrated local author Bali Rai offering a masterclass and workshop to students and members of the public as part of the launch of the new MA in Creative Writing, as well as the Annual Creative Writing Lecture, and a talk by Blake Morrison – who will be discussing life writing. 

The University will also celebrate the launch of the next edition of the School of Arts literary journal at New Walk Museum with a public event involving readings from well-known poets and more. 

For more information on Literary Leicester 2016, visit: 


For more information about Literary Leicester contact: Dr Harry Whitehead on or Vanessa Scott on

Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2015 and 2018, we plan to invest £1.1 billion of public money from government and an estimated £700 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

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