The idea for a festival of ‘More Than Words’ came about in mid-2019. Local cultural and arts groups were invited to a meeting that autumn and began planning a series of literary-related events to take place over a weekend the following summer. This would embrace all art forms – dance, poetry, music, literature and art. From the outset we wanted to be diverse, inclusive and welcoming to everyone who had something to offer and to be about so much more than authors promoting their latest books.
It was early 2020, with Arts Council funding in place, venues booked and a varied programme ready to go, when out of the blue…Covid shut us and the world down. A small team continued to work on and curated an online taster programme of what might have been. We regrouped in the summer and planning began in earnest, ready for a second lockdown or release from the pandemic which everyone hoped would be over by summer 2021.
We put together a programme, the Arts Council offered us a second grant, and we prepared for a masked and socially distanced open air event. With joy and relief, in June 2021 we finally presented a combination of what might have been the year before along with some new ideas!
The team then got together again in early autumn and started planning for 2022 – new team members had brought with them much needed expertise and ambition and we challenged ourselves to be better and bolder.
Our third event in June 2022 was supported by the Arts Council, local bookshops, and sponsored by local businesses. It shone out across the town – it was hard to miss us, with banners everywhere promoting what we were about. We had overwhelmingly positive feedback from over a third of our audience and this has encouraged us to be even bolder in planning our next event.
So now here we are, finding ways to work smarter not harder, making new friends, and seeking out new and exciting ways to engage and stimulate our local and not so local visitors.
- We are an independent, not for profit organisation (CIC), run co-operatively, working wherever possible with local partners – in education, public services, complementary arts; supporting local businesses and seeking out opportunities to transform unused assets for the benefit of the town.
- We are sensitive to difference & diversity: including multicultural, intersecting identities of race, creed, age, social status, gender, sexual orientation, physical and mental ability and advantage.
- We do not align ourselves with any party-political views. However, the content of our festival is inevitably and often explicitly ‘political’ in line with these values.
- We promote or provide edgy, radical, experiential and courageous work, which is engaging & fun, engendering wonder, bringing high quality art for the benefit of the local community and wherever possible, creating a cultural legacy for the town. We believe that art should challenge and stimulate reflection and discussion. We want to foster local, grass roots talent and local art and through our work, bring creative people together. We believe that art, and thus our work, should reflect current themes and concerns in wider society and worldwide movements.
Our green credentials
- We are ecologically aware, with a small carbon footprint and committed to a sustainable future for our community, our town, our planet and our programmes. We want our work to promote the wider wellbeing of our community – healthy people (in mind and body) and support and respect for the environment that nourishes us.
The Directors and Committee of Clevedon Literary Festival
Moving to Clevedon in 2019 fulfilled a long-held ambition for Jayne – to live by the coast. She sees re-locating here from the south-east, to be close to her daughters in Bristol, as a final destination after previously living in Kent, London, Africa and Wales.
Settling in a new town can be challenging and was particularly so during the lockdowns of 2020/2021. Jayne was looking for ways to connect with like-minded people when she spotted a Facebook post asking for volunteers for the Festival. She drew on her administrative and people skills to co-ordinate the volunteers, meeting some lovely people in the process.
Jayne has worked in a variety of sectors, from legal, education and the arts to business-to-business exhibitions, enabling her to gain skills and experience in training, coaching and administration. She has also worked as a freelance counsellor.
Being involved with the Festival has given Jayne the opportunity to brush up on old skills and learn new ones. Even more importantly, it has introduced her to some fantastic people and the chance to contribute to the cultural life of her new home and community.