May 5, 2012

Great news for the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival

One of Britain’s leading poetry organisations has won major new funding to transform its annual poetry festival.

After a year of great uncertainty, The Poetry Trust has been awarded £195k Grants for the Arts Lottery funding to secure its base in Suffolk and to expand its international Aldeburgh Poetry Festival into the Aldeburgh Music campus at Snape Maltings.

Aldeburgh Poetry Festival has been bringing world-class poets to the East Suffolk coast for 23 years – more than 450 poets from 36 countries attracting the largest audiences for poetry in the UK. The Festival has been operating at capacity for more than a decade, severely constrained by its own success. With the wonderful new performance spaces at Snape, with free shuttle buses running between Aldeburgh and the beautiful campus, and with more room to welcome more people, the Festival will now become the ultimate poetry experience.

Extending the relationship with Aldeburgh Music is a natural development for The Poetry Trust. Together they have already presented nine triumphant Poetry Proms, bringing capacity audiences of 800 to Snape Maltings for these one-off readings each summer. It is also a natural partnership, given the importance of poetry to Benjamin Britten and his founding vision for Snape; his close friendships and collaborations with poets and his lifelong commitment to poetry in his music.

The Poetry Trust’s Director, Naomi Jaffa, said:

“The spirit of the Festival and its unique format won’t change. And we’re definitely not abandoning Aldeburgh. Rather, we’ll be combining the bigger spaces and superb facilities available at Snape with early morning and late evening events in our traditional town venues. Most of the audience – and all our Festival poets – will continue to stay in the town. That’s why we’ll be running a free shuttle bus service between Aldeburgh and Snape (a 10-15 minute trip) throughout the weekend. Because we know that part of the Festival magic will always include walks on the beach and the best fish and chips in England! So we’re very mixing the best of the old with the new.”

Aldeburgh Music’s Chief Executive, Jonathan Reekie, added:

“I am delighted to extend our partnership with The Poetry Trust and to welcome Aldeburgh Poetry Festival to Snape. It will be a great pleasure to fill our spaces with the best contemporary poetry and emerging talent and to bring together the Festival’s dedicated following with new audiences for both poetry and music.”

Helen Lax, Regional Director, Arts Council England, East, said:

“We are exceptionally pleased to support The Poetry Trust in this exciting new chapter for the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival through our Grants for the arts programme. Snape Maltings is an inspirational setting which will allow The Poetry Trust to bring together new and existing audiences to experience and enjoy dynamic contemporary poetry from across the world. We look forward to this year’s Festival, and to seeing it flourish in its new home.”

The 2012 programme will present the exceptional mix of UK and international poetic talent which audiences have come to expect from Aldeburgh Poetry Festival. This year’s line-up will include world-class writers Ko Un from South Korea and Ingrid de Kok from South Africa – both reading in the UK for the very first time – and some of Britain’s finest, such as the Costa-winning Christopher Reid and the sensational Jackie Kay (fresh from her Snape Maltings Poetry Prom triumph in 2011).

In addition to the Grants for the Arts Lottery funding, The Poetry Trust has also recently won a three-year transformational award from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for audience development. As well as the need to secure further charitable trust grants, sponsorships and donations, The Poetry Trust will launch a new Friends scheme, offering loyal audiences a chance to involve themselves even more intimately with the Festival – from opportunities to meet the poets to the chance to hear in detail about behind-the-scenes programming and preparation.

The 24th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival (2012) takes place November 2–4 and a short film will be available in June, explaining more about this major new chapter in the Festival’s history.

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