Over the years, I’ve made many appearances at literary festivals of all types and sizes but it’s always a particular pleasure to be involved in one which is making its debut. So, I’m delighted to be taking part in the inaugural Cleckheaton Literature Festival this week, right here in my adopted home of West Yorkshire. And all the more so because most of the events are being staged in a library which is under threat of closure due to spending cuts.
Three days of readings, talks, workshops and children’s activities will be held on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (May 7-9), with Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat, and radio and TV music presenter Andy Kershaw, topping the bill. Other featured writers include Dr Who author Mark Wright, children’s writer Gillian Rogerson and crime novelist Alison Taft, along with Jason Hewitt, Horatio Clare, Lauren Owen, Helen Cadbury and Leigh Russell. As for me, I’ll be running a two-hour writing-for-young-adults workshop at 4pm on Thursday, in Cleckheaton Library.
The library, a Grade II-listed building in Whitcliffe Road, is under threat as Kirklees Council needs to reduce its £5.75 million library services budget by £3.2m by 2018. Campaigners bidding to save it from closing have gathered 3,700 signatures on a petition; along with town councillors and the festival organisers, they hope the popularity of the literature events will help to prove what a vital and vibrant role libraries play in their local community.
Cleckheaton Literature Festival was founded in January 2015 and is a community-wide collaboration to spread the love of literature to a wider audience, especially children. Festival partners include Cleckheaton Writers Group, The Friends of West End Park, Kirklees Council, Creative Scene, Reading Matters, Spenborough Chamber of Trade and Commerce and others.