Update on postponement of Oxford Literary Festival

Update on postponement of Oxford Literary Festival

Dear friend Thank you for your understanding, patience and support as we adapt to the impact of coronavirus and the postponement of our March and April events. I have seen all your messages since I made my statement on postponement last week. I would like to set out very openly the difficult financial context in which we are now operating. With your kind support, we can survive and bring you a programme later this year or next year. Most festival costs are incurred in the year running up to the festival. In common with many small arts and culture organisations we have never been able to afford cancellation insurance. Pandemic cover was hardly available. The festival has sometimes made a surplus, but this has been offset by many years when we just broke even or made a loss. We have been sustained by a small number of generous supporters, who have made long-term interest-free loans. We have no endowment and we are the only one of the big four UK literary festivals (the others are Hay, Edinburgh and Cheltenham) to receive no public funding. Until early last week, only seven events had been cancelled and all ticket buyers affected had been reimbursed. Reimbursement continued until Friday 13 March. Official advice was to proceed as normal. Speakers had re-confirmed their intention of coming, and it looked as though the festival just might be able to take place. However, as the week progressed, it became clear that festival venues were likely to be closed to public events, speakers from overseas and many from the UK would not be able to travel, and the government was likely to ban large-scale public events. In common with many arts and commercial organisations in the UK, the festival was caught in a perfect financial storm. We had sold tickets worth £170,000 and were expecting to see a further £100,000 in sales between mid-March and the end of the festival. We are now faced with a debt to ticket holders of £170,000 and no prospect of being able to refund it. The stark alternatives are to:
  • go into immediate liquidation and no-one will receive any refunds
  • try to keep the festival going, recognising that we are in no position to offer refunds We are determined to make every effort over the coming months to stage a series of events in late 2020 and early 2021 if the public health and financial circumstances allow it. A 2021 festival could be held in early autumn of next year. We hope to soon have news of a new date in the autumn for one of this year’s big Sheldonian events. We would be grateful for any festival-goers who felt able to consider their tickets as a donation to the future of the festival. We are extremely grateful to those of you who have already confirmed gifts. We are also looking at how we might credit ticketholders for future events. It will take us time to work through all the options, which could include launching a fundraising appeal. Please appreciate that we cannot give any further assurances for now. I believe we can mount a full programme in future with your support, patience and understanding. We have been extremely moved by the extraordinary number of proposed and former writers and speakers who have already pledged their support for the festival. In the coming weeks, we will be talking to our long-standing sponsors, donors and partners about the situation. I will report back to you at regular intervals. Sally Dunsmore Festival director
  • 2023

    2022

    The Oxford Literary Festival sponsors, donors & partners

    The Telegraph Festival media partner University of Oxford Netflix European Union Supported by the Delegation of the European Union to the UK Cultural Relations Platform Supporter of the festival's Voices of Europe programme BBC World Service International radio partner Owen Mumford Supporter of programme of science and medicine and annual science and innovation award Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner Oxford Mathematics Spanish Embassy The Spanish Embassy: supporters of the programme of Spanish literature and culture Cervantes Institute, London The Cervantes Institute, London Italian Embassy The Italian Embassy: supporter of the programme of Italian literature and culture The Dorchester Hotels Collection Festival London hotel partner International Literary Properties Festival literary heritage partner Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels Festival hotel Old Bank Hotel Five-star hotel partners of The Oxford Collection Old Parsonage Hotel Five-star hotel partners of The Oxford Collection Jim Mellon John Roberts Lady Hatch Patron donor for the programme of Irish literature and culture Tim and Marion Stevenson Martin and Elise Becket Smith Miles Young Masumi and Jonathan Dobson Pank Koria CEO of Project People Carole and John Allen David Isaac Mary and Cecil Quillen Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Anna Hunter Rhys and Kerry Phillip Exeter College Exeter College: college home of the festival. Founded 1314 New College New College founded 1379 Worcester College Worcester College founded 1714 Lincoln College Lincoln College founded 1427 St Cross College St Cross College founded 1965 Trinity College Trinity College founded 1555 Magdalen College Magdalen College founded 1458 Critchleys Accountants to the festival Pasture to Plate Compassion in World Farming Human Ecology Project MACROVegan Symington Wines of the Douro Valley Princeton University Press Prestige publishing partner European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Sponsor of the EBRD Literature Prize since 2018 ROOMS Georgia's leading lifestyle hotel brand since 2012. Supporters of the programme of Georgian literature and culture Jewish Book Week Partner of Oxford Literary Festival Foodbuy Thje Menu Partners Institute of Hospitality Goldmoney Properties Project People Oxford Brookes University Oxford International Centre for Publishing Confucius Institute Pusey House British Academy Festival academic partner Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies Oxford United Football Club Racalia Olive Oil Olive oil from Sicily BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design Paul Bloomfield Ltd University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Conference Oxford Felicity Bryan Associates CAV Oxford The Sheldonian Theatre Oxford University Images Oxford University Images Oxford University Department for Continuing Education Force4Good Consultancy Corporate communications OX magazine Ox in a Box K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography The Litmus Partnership Schoolreaders Windrush Group James Currey Society