New literature festival planned for Bradford

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Syima Aslam and Irna Qureshi, organising the Bradford Literature Festival after it received funding from the Arts Council. Syima Aslam and Irna Qureshi, organising the Bradford Literature Festival after it received funding from the Arts Council.

A NEW literature festival for Bradford aims to be the first in the UK to champion world literature and British writing on an equal footing.

The Bradford Literature Festival is being set up by two local bookworms who believed the city deserved its own festival to rival those in Hay-on-Wye and Edinburgh.

Although it will focus on work in the English language, the organisers hope the festival will champion literature from a variety of different cultures, to bring the city's many communities together in a celebration of the written word.

One of the founders, Oakenshaw mother-of-one Syima Aslam, said: "It will be everything from the Brontes right through, so there will be a focus on our heritage but at the same time it will be about modern literature.

"I am really excited about it. It has been fantastic working on this. We have had such support, everybody we have spoken to has been so enthusiastic and supportive."

Her friend and co-founder, Saltaire mother-of-one Irna Qureshi, said the idea came about because they had been going to literary and arts festivals all around the country with their children, and had asked themselves why Bradford didn't have anything similar.

She said: "We just wanted to organise the event we wanted to go to."

The pair set up an arts organisation, Culture Squared, which has now been awarded a £15,000 grant by the Arts Council England to kick-start the festival with a two-day taster event.

This will be held on the weekend of September 27 and 28, with around 25 events planned in venues around the city centre, including the City Library, the National Media Museum, City Hall, the Theatre in the Mill and the Midland Hotel.

It is then expected to become an annual event each May, with the 2015 festival planned for May 15 to 24.

Helen Parrott, of Arts Council England, said: “We are delighted to support Culture Squared, a new arts organisation in Bradford, through our Grants for the Arts programme.

"Grants for the Arts invests Lottery money in the highest quality arts activity and supports innovative and exciting work. The award will help Culture Squared to launch the Bradford Literature Festival with a weekend of taster events in September.

"This project is planning to present south Asian and western literature on an equal basis, a unique approach among UK-based literature festivals."

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