The organisers of the first Derby Book Festival have announced that they are delighted by its success with 90% of the evaluations rating the 64 events as ‘Excellent’. The Festival, which ran for eight days in 20 venues across the city, sold 3500 tickets, with 14 events being sold out. An estimated 5000 people attended the Festival, which included free children and family activities in the Market Place, Silk Mill and libraries.
The Festival, which closed on Sunday night with a sold out performance of the inspirational and moving ‘Only Remembered’ by Michael Morpurgo and acapella trio, Coope, Boyes and Simpson in Derby Theatre.
The Festival has welcomed a host of international fiction and non-fiction authors to the city as well as having celebrated local writing talent. The events have spanned the city with many of these held at QUAD, as well as at the main arts and cultural centres, libraries, Waterstones, University of Derby, Derby College, Derby County Football Club and Derbyshire County Cricket Club. The events even reached an international audience thanks to the use of Periscope live-streaming by media partner Status Social.
Children from every primary school in the city had the opportunity to meet former Michael Morpurgo who returned to Derby Theatre on Monday morning to meet over 450 children from 60 Derby City primary schools where he talked to them about the importance of reading and where he gets the inspiration for his books and answered their questions. The children were enthralled and a member of Derby Theatre staff commented that they had never seen a group of such well behaved children!
Some of the other highlights of the Festival included: best selling authors David Nicholls and Sarah Waters who appeared in events at QUAD; leading neurosurgeon Henry Marsh; Managing Director of Waterstones, James Daunt, who spoke to business leaders at the University of Derby; poet Simon Armitage whose performance at Déda was sold out; romantic novelist, Katie Fforde and BBC Radio 4 presenter, James Naughtie, who also had a sell out event at Derby Museum & Art Gallery.
Two events at the Cathedral Quarter Hotel: the Festival Lunch with Dame Penelope Lively and Afternoon Tea with independent publisher Nicola Beauman, of Persephone Books, were also sold out.
Derby Book Festival Chair, Liz Fothergill said: “The response to our first Festival has been overwhelming and the city is buzzing with the excitement of so many high profile authors at superbly well organised and interesting events. The feedback is amazing with the vast majority of events being described as ‘Excellent’. This has exceeded our wildest dreams and we want to thank all our partners, sponsors and volunteers for their support.”
Festival co-organiser Jenny Denton, co-organiser of the Festival, said “For me one of the many highlights of the Festival was the Opening Night held at The Roundhouse. Over 300 people listened to a range of readings chosen and read by local people of all ages and from across Derby’s communities. Our special guest, Blake Morrison, captivated the audience with his inspirational poetry leaving the audience spellbound.
“Partnerships have been fundamental to the success of the Festival – with the city’s arts organisations, the city council, local businesses and our media partners providing invaluable advice and support. The Derby Telegraph has given us great coverage, Revolver Revolver designed our stunning programme, Status Social ran a fantastic social media campaign and Codemakers built and maintained the Festival’s website updating our news on a daily basis. Without the generosity of these partners we would definitely not have had such a successful festival.”
Co-organiser Sian Hoyle said: “The Festival has been 14 months in the planning, for much of this time with just Jenny and me. To have seen the city’s arts partners come together and support us as relative unknowns in their world has been humbling and we hope the Festival’s success has repaid their trust and benefitted their own organisations.
“We are already planning the next Festival, which will almost certainly be the same week next year. We don’t want to get any bigger, but do want to ensure we retain the same high quality of events, authors and activities as this year.”
If you have any ideas for authors and events for next year’s Festival, the organisers want to hear from you, contact firstname.lastname@example.org