Skip to content

Bradford literature festival attracts major Arts Council England award


The Bradford Literature Festival, in association with Provident Financial Group, is delighted to announce that it has been successful in securing funding from Arts Council England for the 2016 and 2017 festivals

Arts Council England has supported the festival since its launch in September 2014.

The award follows last year’s announcement of title sponsorship funding from Provident Financial. This, coupled with continued support from Bradford Council, University of Bradford and the Midland Hotel, gives the festival a strong base on which to build for the future and create an internationally renowned destination festival in Bradford, the literature hub of the North.

Mark Garratt, Director of External Affairs at the University of Bradford, said: "What Syima Aslam and Irna Qureshi have achieved in a very short timescale, is nothing short of incredible.

“The University of Bradford is really proud to be a Key Partner to the Festival. We had faith at the very start of the project and this is now proving to have been a very good decision. This is also fabulous news for the great City of Bradford - to have an internationally renowned Literature Festival in our city further supports its regeneration."

The funding of £495,000 has been awarded under the Ambition for Excellence scheme, unveiled by the Arts Council last year. Given the award is focused on supporting talent, excellence and growing an ambitious international-facing arts infrastructure, this is a major accolade for the festival. It will help develop the cultural infrastructure in Bradford and the North of England, leading to a step change for both literature and literacy.

The Bradford Literature Festival, in association with Provident Financial, was launched in September 2014 and held its first full festival in May last year, attracting nearly 9,500 people to over 150 events. The 10-day festival saw Bradford play host to local, national and international figures from the worlds of literature, politics, arts, science, faith, culture and film, coming together to debate issues and ideas which ranged from poetry to particle physics. The festival is spearheading Bradford’s cultural renaissance to complement the ongoing economic regeneration and is committed to raising aspirations and literacy levels in the city.

Building on last year’s success, the 2016 festival will run from Friday 20th to Sunday 29th May. As well as bringing together leading writers, thinkers and artists to create thought provoking and uplifting events, the festival will introduce international elements from Bronte and Japanese collaborations, to the introduction of artists from Pakistan and Turkey into the Sufi weekend.

Syima Aslam, Festival Co-Director, said: “We are delighted that the Arts Council have demonstrated their confidence in the festival and in Bradford by awarding this significant funding. Following as it does on the title sponsorship deal with Provident Financial last year, as well as the continued support from Bradford Council, the University of Bradford and Midland Hotel, this excellent news puts us in a strong position to create an international destination festival. This will not only create a step change for the cultural infrastructure of Bradford and the north, it also has a significant impact on the economic regeneration of the city.”

Irna Qureshi, Festival Co-director said: “Bradford Literature Festival is unique in that it responds to a local and national need for cultural spaces where all experiences are equally valid, and shared on platforms that are accessible to everyone, rather than one particular part of the population. The festival has successfully reached audiences that traditional literature festivals simply do not, by creating a programme that cuts across communities, cultures and contemporary Britain’s multiple identities. As such, it is relevant not only to Bradford’s many different communities but also nationally. It’s taken Bradford with its unique backdrop to re-write the cultural narrative and create a cultural shift, that marks a coming of age not just for this city but also for the UK.

Find out more about the festival »

Back to news from 2016