Interview with Leeds Lit Fest

Leeds Lit Fest launches in the city for the very first time from 6th-10th March 2019. With an exciting programme of events and a real sense of community support, the festival looks set to be yet another high-profile example of Leeds’ ever-evolving creative scene.

We caught up with one of the organisers, Hannah Powley, to find out more about the event and what the groups involved hope to achieve with the festival. As one of the core members of The Leeds Big Bookend festival, Hannah Powley is no stranger to being part of successful creative ventures in the city.

How did the idea of a Leeds Lit Fest first come about?

Leeds has such a buoyant literature scene with so many exciting things going on. We all came together with a vision to unify all that great work, as well as expand on it by introducing our own exciting programme of events over the festival weekend.

Who is on the Leeds Lit Fest working group and how have the group decided on the partners / activities for the very first Leeds Lit Fest?

Leeds Lit Fest partners include The Leeds Library, Leeds Libraries, Carriageworks Theatre, Chapel FM, The Leeds Big Bookend and Northern Short Story Festival, Headingley LitFest, Hyde Park Book Club, MILIM, Leeds Minster, Leeds Church Institute and #foundfiction which are some of the current literature event organisers in Leeds.

Putting together the festival programming has been a really good, collaborative process. All the partners have come together and put forward an array of events which are not only incredibly diverse, but also showcases the breadth and depth of the literary and spoken word talent in this city. No matter what your personal tastes or interests, we hope everyone can find something of interest on this year’s programme.

The festival is only happening for a few days, do you hope to expand the programme of events year-on-year?

Never say never! We obviously have huge ambitions for the festival and can see it expanding rapidly from its current form, but our focus at the moment is on making this year’s festival the best it possibly can be. With a successful 2019 festival behind us, we can turn our attention to forging stronger community links, building the festival’s profile and delivering a greater range of events.

Can you reveal the ‘headline’ events and activities happening at the festival this year?

We can reveal that the internationally acclaimed writer David Peace, author of The Red Riding Quartet and The Damned United, will be kicking off the festival in conversation with arts journalist and writer Yvette Huddleston. It will be a real treat for literature lovers as he rarely does events in the UK.

But for details of all the amazing events we have planned, you’ll have to check out the whole programme.

What do you hope to achieve with the festival? Do you hope it will encourage more people to visit Leeds throughout March?

Absolutely, Leeds has such a vibrant arts community and the festival is designed to showcase some of the most creative venues across the city. We hope to introduce visitors to these wonderful venues and get them excited about literature and spoken word events.

With an eye to the future, we also want to contribute to the city’s cultural ambition for 2023 and put the city on the map as a hub for literary events of national and international significance.

There is a well-known creative scene in Leeds – what do you think makes Leeds such a special city to attract this amount of talent?

Maybe it’s the good old-fashioned Yorkshire air!

Most places have a lot of creative talent, but there’s something about Leeds that seems to help really draw it out of people. Whether that’s because there are so many supportive networks for people looking to develop their art, their writing, crafting, whatever. Or maybe it’s because we are surrounded by so much inspiration – from our historic libraries, museums and art galleries, to the beauty of the natural world around us? It’s safe to say, Leeds is a very special place.

Describe Leeds in three words

Vibrant, mercurial and creative.

If you had to imagine Leeds Lit Fest in a few year’s time, where do you see it?

Bigger and better than ever! We’re aiming high. We would love to see the festival transform into the leading lit festival in the north of England, with its own distinctive Leeds flavour.  We are all working hard behind the scenes to make this a reality and hope to join up with more people and organisations who feel just as passionately about this as we do.

6th-10th March is in our diaries!

As a creative place marketing agency with our HQ in Leeds, we’re thrilled to see even more vibrant events popping up around the city. Events like these really do help make places successful.