Clevedon Litfest history

The idea for a festival of ‘More Than Words’ came about in 2019, when local cultural and arts groups were invited to a meeting and began planning a series of literary-related events to take place over a weekend in 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 and 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!

Our third event, in June 2022,  shone out across the town - it was hard to miss us, with banners everywhere promoting what we were about.  We were grateful to be funded and supported by both national and local grants, as well Clevedon bookshops, and local businesses sponsorships. We had overwhelmingly positive feedback from over a third of our audience and this encouraged us to be even bolder in planning our next event. So, in 2023, we mounted our most ambitious programme to date - 51 events over two weeks, culminating in a final Festival weekend of literature, poetry and music. 

At this point, we realised that changes were needed in both our organisational model and our programming, and we took two decisions which have both come into effect in 2024:   1) to spread our programming across the year, staging events in the Spring and Autumn, as well as our Summer Festival on or around the second weekend in June; and 2) to move from being a Community Interest  Company to become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO), with our existing Directors becoming Trustees and being joined by new recruits.

So now here we are, still appreciating the local support we receive, continuing to explore 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.