Edinburgh International book festival announces new hybrid format – The Guardian

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Edinburgh International book festival announces new hybrid format

Director Nick Barley says lessons from the pandemic include providing a more accessible festival, so half of this year’s offering will be available online

At least half of the Edinburgh International book festival programme will be broadcast free online this summer, after the pandemic “fundamentally transformed” what the event can offer.

Building on the hybrid format developed over the past two years, the EIBF will return to full-scale, in-person events in theatres around the Edinburgh College of Arts, but director Nick Barley says he aims to continue accessibility for those unable to attend in person, while maintaining the “extraordinary international reach” achieved online last year, via streaming in the festival’s three biggest theatres.

“With the accessibility of the online offering, people have been in contact with me who have chronic illnesses or anxieties, or long Covid, saying that it was possible for them to attend the festival events even though they couldn’t come in person,” Barley explains. “The other side of it is the extraordinary international reach that we’ve achieved. Literary festivals are among the most local festivals, but we reached all over the world to hundreds of thousands of viewers last year and we do not want to lose that.”

In addition, all online and a selection of in-person events will be ticketed on a pay-what-you-can basis.

“That’s part of our drive to try to encourage people out again, who might still be reluctant to come out in the post-Covid environment,” says Barley. “We’ve chosen a series of events which we think are likely to be attractive to people who might not have thought book festivals were for them.” These include interviews with food writer and campaigner Jack Monroe; with comedian Kevin Bridges, whose debut novel, The Black Dog, comes out in August; and American young adult author Jason Reynolds.

Other programme highlights include musician PJ Harvey discussing her new narrative poem, Orlam; bestselling Ukrainian historian Serhii Plokhy discussing his country’s position at the crossroads of Europe and Russia; and singers Charlotte Church and Shirley Manson in conversation on the nature of grief.

Succession star Brian Cox will take a break from filming the next series for an interview with first minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Categories: books

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