Working-Class Writers Festival
This is a dynamic new festival of national significance which will take place in Bristol in 2021.
It aims to enhance, encourage and increase representation from the working class across the country, whilst connecting authors, readers, agents and editors. The artistic director is Natasha Carthew, herself an award-winning working-class writer and poet who is a passionate campaigner for working-class representation in the arts.
The festival and the wider engagement programme will provide much-needed exposure to working-class writers and bring inspiration to young people from similar backgrounds. It will showcase authentic stories reflective of and relatable to the experiences of working-class communities. Running from 21 to 24 October 2021, the festival will use physical and digital spaces, and will include panel discussions, speaker events and workshops. Events will take place in a wide variety of locations around the city, including local libraries. Many of the events will be offered for free. Where there are ticket prices, or for selected events in the city centre, bursaries will be offered to allow people from under-represented backgrounds to attend. More information about ticketing will be published with the full programme at the end of the summer.
At the heart of the festival is the commissioning and showcasing of working-class writers of all styles and disciplines, providing a platform for those who are already established as well as those making their debut. The festival will be working with Knowle West Media Centre to appoint a Bristol-based writer in residence and will be working with LYRA to commission new work from Bristol-based working-class poets. More information about these will be shared in August 2021.
The full programme will be announced in the summer. This will include: an event with Hat Trick TV Productions; panel discussions on tackling socio-economic inequality in the UK with Policy Press, folktales and feminism with Virago Press and demystifying publishing with Hachette UK; workshops and masterclasses with writers; and a chance for aspiring local working-class writers to speed-pitch to editors from Hachette UK and other top UK literacy agents.
Working-class writers from across the UK will be congregating in Bristol, physically and digitally. Writers that are set to appear include Stella Duffy, Val McDermid, Paul Mendez, Mohsin Zaidi, Tracy King, Graham Caveney, Mahsuda Snaith, Kerry Hudson, Sam Friedman, Lorraine Brown, Mark Hodkinson, Juno Roche, Justin Myers, Patrice Lawrence, Tony Walsh, Cash Carraway, Courttia Newland, Dave O’Brian, Tanya Shadwick, Mona Arshi, Simon Kvosi, Mary O’Hara, Joelle Taylor, Amer Anwar, Jessica Andrews, James McDermott, Sharon Duggal and Cole Moreton.
Bristol Ideas is supporting the project coordination of the Working-Class Writers Festival. It builds nicely on our 28 years of engagement work in city, and particularly our relationships from Homes for Heroes 100 and A Poetic City.
You can follow the festival on Twitter at @classfestival
‘Hachette UK is committed to widening the social diversity of our people and publishing and, as such, we are delighted to be co-sponsoring the Working-Class Writers Festival. We wholeheartedly support the festival’s aim to showcase stories reflective of, and relatable to, the experiences of working-class communities and their intention to make attendance at festivals more accessible to all, increasing opportunity for all writers regardless of background.’ Hachette UK
‘We are excited to be co-sponsors of the Working-Class Writers Festival. Culture is driven by people from all sections of society, and the festival will shine a spotlight on fantastic working-class authors from across the industry who often go unrepresented at other events. We’ll be hosting a free workshop on how to get published, equipping writers with the insight and tools they need to navigate the industry, as part of our commitment to find and support writers from backgrounds who are currently under-represented in publishing.’ Penguin Random House