Essex Book Festival is an independent charity based at the University of Essex in Colchester. Our aim is to celebrate the book and storytelling in all its forms, to push the boundaries creatively, and to help build new bridges between communities. Finally, to get as many people as possible involved in all of our activities.
We love books. Of course we do. But we also love theatre, visual art, spoken word, politics, science, film, and getting our teeth into some difficult conversations.
We also like popping up - or down - in new spaces. Our events take place in 40+ venues in Essex. What we lack in white marquees, we make up for in inventiveness.
This year we popped up in Riverside Leisure Centre Swimming Pool (Chelmsford) for an immersive performance of JG Ballard's 'The Drowned World' conceived + performed by Brighton-based company Wet Sounds in collaboration with Essex sound artists Frazier Merrick, Chris Adam + Andrew Wright. Yes, everyone got very wet. No, no books were harmed in the process.
Two years ago we went underground into Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker for 'The Nuclear Option'. Pictures speak louder than words on this occasion ...
We are also passionate about celebrating Essex's diversity. Something that we do in collaboration with Essex Cultural Diversity Project via our countywide #StandUpForDiversity events.
This year we invited 350 artists + writers to take part in Essex Book Festival in 46 venues across Essex. Unfortunately many of them didn't make it to Essex due to Covid-19. To say that we were disappointed doesn't begin to express how we felt on 17 March when we cancelled the rest of the festival 11 days early.
However, we consider ourselves the lucky ones. Thanks to exceptional support from friends and partners, the show is still on the road for 2021. The size of the show hangs in the balance and will depend on support from our funders and kind donations from others.
OUR PLANS FOR 2021
We have all sorts of plans for next year's Essex Book Festival which will be taking place June - August for 2021. We can't tell you everything - we need to hold some things back for the New Year - but we can tell you that we have two Essex Book Camps in the pipeline encouraging everyone to get fit with books, storytelling, author events, performances, writing + craft workshops and more in The Great Essex Outdoors. The Natural World is a key theme next year, following on from the launch of our 2020 Young Essex #ManifestoForEssex Climate Change project.
You might also like to help us #RewriteTheArchive by supporting our artist-led creative writing workshops: a new collaboration with Colchester Museums + Essex Museums to make the county's heritage collections more relevant to everyone. UK-based Indian writer/mythographer Seema Anand has her eyes on the dolls' houses in Hollytrees Museum in Colchester. While best-selling British author and founding member of Essex Girls Liberation Front Syd Moore will be delving into all things Witches & Essex Girls in Harlow Museum. We can't wait to see what comes of that.
With over twenty author events planned in twenty libraries across Essex extending from James Canton, author of 'The Oak Papers,' next year's #TheEssexRead, featured on Radio 4's Book of the Week; our Criminally Good Crime Writing Day in Chelmsford; six artist-led #InMySteps:RadicalWalksInEssex; our creative writing workshops/author events in HMP Chelmsford; the inaugural Young Essex #ManifestoForEssex Climate Change Summit at Anglia Ruskin University; plus our very first digital twinning with Melbourne-based Emerging Writers Festival, you can see why we need your help to make it happen.
Then there's the Essex Writers House, which is hosted + programmed by Metal at Chalkwell Hall in Southend. Hot desks, open mic performances, panel discussions, writing residencies, authors, writing workshops, plus Weekend Writers Cafe, Essex Writers House is 'Heaven on The Estuary' for writers at all stages of their career.
How will we spend your money? It's simple. We will spend your money on writer and artist fees, travel expenses and accommodation. Without them we are nothing. And let's face it, 2020 has not been kind to writers and artists.
Any additional money will go towards our production costs. That is, venue hire, sound and audio equipment, transportation and promotion. The more money we raise, the more money and time we will be able to invest in our events, spreading the word, and developing our audiences.
Over to you!
A huge thanks from the Festival Team in advance
Ros, Claire & Marina
FINALLY, THE LAST WORD GOES TO ...
Sarah Perry, Essex Book Festival Patron + award-winning writer (After the Flood, The Essex Serpent, Melmoth, Essex Girls: For Profane & Opinionated Women Everyone).
“I love Essex Book Festival for its determination to take literature and storytelling from all over the world out into the local community. It's a real gem and plays such an important role in the cultural life of Essex.”
Sarah Perry and Ros Green (Festival Director), Essex Book Festival Launch 2019