The main event
ChipLitFest is a four-day festival, comprising 52 events across nine venues.
More than 4,000 people visited the town, bringing increased footfall to the shops and businesses in the area.
On the first day of the Festival we delivered 14 author-led workshops in local schools including primaries, secondaries, a nursery school, and a specialist unit for children with Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs.
In 2017 we increased ticket sales from 2016 by 28%.
We enjoyed the support of increased sponsorship from local and national businesses as well as continuing funding from a number of grant-making bodies.
The range of authors who joined the Festival was notable, from debut authors to household names such as Ian Rankin and Nadiya Hussain. Our commitment to inclusion was demonstrated in a 50/50 split between male and female authors and at least 15% of authors having a Black, Asian or ethnic minority heritage.
Events for young people
Other events for children and young people included a poetry competition and the publication of a collection of short stories written by primary school pupils in response to author visits. We celebrated their talent at a launch and tea party for pupils, staff and families.
Throughout the year, we deliver weekly reading sessions to residents in a care home for those living with dementia.
We also ran a series of events outside the Festival weekend - creative writing workshops for young people living in residential care and those who have been permanently excluded from mainstream education; workshops for writers; a short story competition and an author talk.
Children’s literacy remains a key objective for the charity. Author visits to local schools reach a total of 2,500 children, at no cost to the schools or the students. Participating schools and their teachers are now building the author visit into a programme of work which, in turn, enhances the impact of the author's work with the pupils. We received excellent feedback from all the schools involved.
In 2017, over 100 volunteers, Festival Friends, patrons, trustees, businesses and sponsors worked together to facilitate bringing ChipLitFest to the town. We are hugely grateful to them all.
We ask our visitors to fill in feedback forms. We discovered:
- about 80% of visitors come from within a 50-mile radius. Around one-third are from the town.
- almost half of our audience are regulars – the Festival has loyal following
- some attend as many as 6 events. Around a quarter go to two or three events.
- nearly all spend money in the town’s shops, restaurants and bars.
We ask for their comments – we got hundreds of replies, but the most common words are “variety” “quality of authors” “great buzz and atmosphere in town” “interesting speakers” “diversity” “friendly” “warm welcome” “well-organised”.
What the authors say
Authors really love coming to ChipLitFest. It’s what makes us different. Our warm welcome and friendly festival makes it an enjoyable experience for them, as you can see from this selection of comments.
I came away with a real sense of what a warm, friendly, fun, interesting festival it really is. BRIAN BILSTON
Thanks so much to you and your wonderful team for making me so welcome at the Festival today - one of the most enjoyable I’ve ever been to. NICHOLAS CRANE
We had a really great time and met so many lovely people. It's such a brilliant, well-organised and friendly event. KEITH STUART
I felt immensely looked after…do ask me again next year. JULIE MAYHEW
My favourite LitFest by far! Thanks so much for having me. SAIRA HAMILTON
I'm still basking in the afterglow. #ChipLitFest has become one of my favourite festivals! ABIR MUKHERJEE