After the success of the inaugural Festival there was little doubt that we would return in 2018. Taking what we learnt in 2017, plus audience and artist feedback we were confident we could bring to you a fun-filled Festival.
The 2018 Festival was a three-day affair taking place in July – across those three days we produced 59 events across eleven venues. We welcomed 122 artists and creatives to the Festival alongside 3,454 audience members and participants – 76% of whom were attending for the first time.
A key focus in 2018 was reader and writer development – we collaborated for the first time with Fosseway Writers to launch an anthology and adult writing competition and hosted a special event for thirteen local reading groups. Newark Young Readers also hosted their own public discussion of the novel The Secret Garden.
We shone the spotlight on illustrators with the addition of a children’s drawing competition, a Meet The Illustrators event and a month long exhibition about illustrator Kate Greenaway.
We welcomed back Matt Haig for a sold-out headliner event at the Palace Theatre. Matt told us about his new book Notes On A Nervous Planet which became a number one Sunday Times bestseller. The event’s focus on mental health and wellbeing had a lasting impact on audiences:
“Since going out and seeing Matt Haig at Newark palace theatre hosted by @NewarkBookFest My mental health has greatly improved, I think it’s because I went and saw someone who was in the same position as I was”. – Audience member on Twitter
The programme also featured talks with authors George Mann, Carole Matthews, Tom Cox, Katherine Woodfine and Lucy Mangan plus an extended day of family events in the grounds of Newark Castle, an expanded Literature Quarter in the Market Place plus street theatre and walkabouts from Rhubarb Theatre.
Across the town there was an undeniable vibrancy and friendly festival atmosphere, created in part by our 25 hard-working volunteers and our enthusiastic and supportive audiences.
The Festival was supported by funding from Arts Council England, Newark and Sherwood District Council, Newark Town Council and Newark Area for Arts and Leisure Foundation. Festival sponsors included Tallents, Duncan and Toplis, Karrot Entertainment, Trigger Press, Creative Apostrophe, Aura Business Centre, Ambitions Personnel and Smiths Timber. The Festival Bookseller was The Bookcase Lowdham.