Job Title Festival Director
Hours: 0.8 FTE
Salary: £30,000 per annum, pro rata
Location: Derby, East Midlands
Reports to: The Chair and Board of Trustees
Direct Reports: Core staff (5 reports)

About the Festival
In just five years Derby Book Festival has established itself as the largest and most successful literature festival in the East Midlands, with ticket sales doubling since its inception. Its success and reputation continue to grow with a programme of events for all ages and interests. We have organised another diverse, accessible and high-quality programme in 2019 with a wide range of writers, from internationally renowned authors to exciting new talent.

The Festival is at a critical time in its organisational development as we plan to apply to become a National Portfolio Organisation.   We are now seeking a new Festival Director to move the Festival to this next phase.  Our new Director will have a  passion for books within a wider creative and cultural context, an astute business mind and, crucially, the ability to drive plans for the future of this successful Festival and lead on their future implementation.

We work closely with arts organisations across the city and have a range of venues: from the beautiful Derby Cathedral which seats 600 people, to the 550-seater Derby Theatre, to spaces accommodating 230 to 100 people and fewer.

To give you an idea of the success of our 2018 Festival:

  • 106 events in 19 venues across the city over 9 days
  • 6832  tickets sold – an increase of 25% on our 2017 ticket sales
  • 41% increase on 2017’s Festival book sales with Waterstones and Blackwells
  • 91% of our audience events rated as Excellent or Good
  • 107 mentions in national, local and regional press

Our first four Festivals have included a broad range of writers including Simon Armitage, Joan Bakewell, Louis de Bernières, Sathnam Sanghera, Joanna Cannon, Tracy Chevalier, Sarah Churchwell, Ken Clarke, Carol Ann Duffy, Sebastian Faulks, Matt Haig, Sophie Hannah, John Hegley, Alan Johnson, Jon McGregor, Kate Mosse, Jenni Murray, James Naughtie, David Nicholls, Matthew Parris, Sarah Perry, Sunjeev Sahota, Sarah Waters and Alison Weir.

Here is a link to a slide show which gives you a flavour of our 2018 Festival, and you can find more information at our website:

Derby Book Festival- Community Programme

From its inception the aim of Derby Book Festival has been to work across our rich and diverse city to engage with as many communities as possible and inspire a love of books and reading. To fulfil this challenge we run two key programmes: Shared Writing and Shared Reading.

Shared Reading provides opportunities for groups of people to come together regularly to hear stories and poems which are read aloud by volunteers and group members. Following each reading the group share thoughts and reflections on what they have heard. The idea of shared reading as ‘bibliotherapy’ is increasingly recognised by health professionals as bringing significant mental health and well-being benefits.

The Festival has now established five groups in the city – in residential homes, extra care homes and with young refugees and asylum seekers. We want to embrace a larger number of people in a wider range of settings and have been approached by the NHS and the Prison Service. Further developments are planned for the coming year.

“I’ve really enjoyed it. It helps me. There’s no pressure to read anything – you can if you want to or you can just listen.”

Shared Writing was launched in 2016 to work with young people from different communities in Derby, many of whom have only recently arrived in the country. Over 20% of Derby’s population were either born, or have a heritage, outside the UK and many speak English as a second language.

We want to encourage these students to engage with books and reading by writing their own stories. By publishing as many of them as possible, we inspire our students to have greater self-confidence and aspirations in both literacy and life. As one of our students has said,

“It has been wonderful creating a book and being a published writer. At 12 years of age that is a massive achievement for me and my friends.”

Key Responsibilities

Vision and Strategic Planning

  • Define a clear, compelling and coherent artistic vision and business strategy for Derby Book Festival in line with the organisation’s mission and aims.
  • With the Board, develop and implement strategic plans in line with resources to ensure DBF is well-positioned within the current arts landscape/environment/ to take advantage of opportunities for growth and organisational development.
  • Devise and deliver plans for income generation, fundraising, sponsorship, external relations and strategic partnerships to identify and maximise potential sources of income to support the core work of DBF and future talent development, education and outreach opportunities.
  • Ensure principles of inclusion, accessibility and the importance of reflecting the diversity of modern British life are embedded at all levels of the organisation and within the artistic vision.

Programme and Production

  • Oversee the artistic programming of the festival, working with festival staff and external contributors.
  • Oversee the effective planning, management and operational delivery by the staff team of programme co-ordination, event production, communications and marketing, box office and ticketing and sponsorship and partnership commitments.
  • Oversee the community programme to build upon and develop DBF’s strategy and artistic vision for its work with children, young people and communities.


  • Act as the public face of DBF, representing and championing the organisation at external events and in the media, building relationships with key funders, partners and stakeholders, and seeking new connections and opportunities.
  • Attend networking events locally, regionally and nationally, as appropriate, as an advocate for DBF and for the arts and culture.

Governance, Leadership and People Management

  • Work co-operatively and collaboratively with the Board of Trustees, key funders and other stakeholders to maintain effective communications, ensure transparency and strengthen relationships.
  • Ensure the Board of Trustees are provided with clear, comprehensive and timely reports to enable decisions on all matters of policy, strategic business and artistic planning and budgeting to be made in a considered and informed manner.
  • Work with the Board to ensure compliance with all legal obligations and requirements
  • Lead, inspire, motivate, manage and support DBF’s small, talented and dedicated core staff team.
  • Overall responsibility for establishing and maintaining a high quality of delivery in all aspects of DBF’s work.
  • Create an organisational culture which values and enables opportunities for professional development for staff and volunteers through regular appraisals, training and mentoring in line with HR policies and plans.

Finance and Fundraising

  • Work with the Board and Finance Officer to plan and implement annual budgets, ensuring robust financial management strategies and long-term sustainable financial planning.
  • Report regularly to the Board to enable effective monitoring of the financial position and inform strategic and business planning.
  • Determine a clear framework for delegation of operational budgets and levels of authority within the staff team.
  • Develop and implement effective plans to maximise income generation from diverse potential revenue streams including earned income, sponsorship, individual giving, public funding and private grants.
  • Oversee the submission of funding applications, providing strategic and artistic content as needed, and ensure all monitoring, evaluation and reporting requirements are met.

Person Specification
The Festival Director should be an inspiring, ambitious and enterprising leader. They should possess strategic and business acumen, including the following knowledge, skills, experience and personal qualities:

Vision and Strategic Planning

  • Strategic vision, personal drive and energy.
  • Managerial experience ideally within the arts/culture sector.
  • Entrepreneurial approach.
  • Understanding of, and commitment to, principles of inclusion and diversity.
  • Understanding of communications and audience development strategies and operational plans.

Programme and Production

  • Knowledge and appreciation of literature.
  • Artistic programming and commissioning experience would be desirable.


  • Strong advocacy skills and experience, ability to communicate DBF’s vision, mission and values at all levels.

Governance, Leadership and People Management

  • Strong leadership skills and ability to motivate, inspire and manage a team.
  • A good teamworker, collaborating positively with Trustees, staff, volunteers and a wide range of stakeholders.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Understanding of the charitable sector and governance.

Finance and Fundraising

  • Sound financial and business acumen; experience in budget management
  • Experience of bid writing, grant monitoring and reporting and developing sponsorship and partnership proposals would be desirable.


  • Able to work under pressure and meet deadlines.
  • Pragmatic approach and ability to problem solve.
  • Good IT and administration skills.


  • Initial 1-year fixed term employment contract (subject to ACE funding), with opportunity to extend by mutual agreement. The Board of Trustees are willing to consider engagement on a freelance basis dependent on the circumstances of the successful candidate.
  • The position will include a 3-month probationary period.
  • Holiday entitlement is 28 days pro-rata inclusive of UK Bank Holidays.
  • DBF operates a workplace pension scheme for eligible employees.
  • DBF operates a flexible approach to working hours, with normal office hours between 8.30am and 6pm, Mon-Fri. Some evening and weekend working will be required, particularly during the Festivals.

To apply for the role, please supply the following:

  • a CV and covering letter explaining why the position interests you and demonstrating how you meet the requirements of the job description and person specification.

Completed applications should be sent by email to Liz Fothergill CBE at or by post to:
Liz Fothergill
Derby Book Festival
The Close
Derby DE6 3AU

Applicants’ personal details will be kept on file for six months, after which they will be confidentially deleted or destroyed.


  • The closing date for applications is: 5pm, Friday 28th June 2019
  • Interviews are scheduled to take place week commencing  8th July 2019

If you require any further information or have any questions you would like to ask about the role before making an application, please contact Liz Fothergill CBE on 07767408832 or via email on

Derby Book Festival

29 May – 6 June 2020

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Derby Book Festival is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation registered with the Charity Commission for England & Wales Number 1159763