Cancellation of book festival ‘really bad news’, says Sturgeon

Former first minister Nicola Sturgeon has branded the cancellation of a popular book festival over funding issues “really bad news”.

The Aye Write festival will not go ahead this year after Creative Scotland turned down its bid for cash.

The event is organised by Glasgow Life – the arms-length leisure body of Glasgow City Council.

The news led to an outpouring of support from artists and politicians, with the famously bookish former occupant of Bute House among those to speak out.

She wrote on X: “Really bad news. I know money is tight but very much hope that a way is found to get @AyeWrite back on track.

“Books, culture generally, are so vital to our wellbeing – and never more so than in the troubled times we live in today.

“Book festivals are opportunities to celebrate the wonder of literature and those who create it. We mustn’t lose that.”

Last year’s festival saw one of the first outings for Ms Sturgeon since her shock resignation as first minister, where she spoke with comedian Janey Godley.

Glasgow Life said some events will “inevitably miss out” due to tight funding, and it hopes it will return in 2025 after an application for multi-year funding.

A spokeswoman said: “The festivals’ delivery is dependent on securing external funding and while bids for funding support continue to exceed monies available, especially during the current difficult economic climate, some events will inevitably miss out.

“Aye Write and Wee Write have developed and grown over the years thanks, in part, to support through Creative Scotland.

Janey Godley and Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon took part in an event with Janey Godley at the Aye Write festival last year (Robert Perry/PA)

“Our 2024 funding application to Creative Scotland was not successful so Aye Write and Wee Write will not be able to take place as festivals this year.

“We appreciate this will cause considerable disappointment.

“Glasgow Life will organise some pop-up Aye Write events during 2024 and will develop an application for multi-year funding starting in 2025, which, if successful, means a return for the festivals next year.”

But author and anti-poverty campaigner Darren McGarvey predicted the decision to cancel will be quickly reversed.

“Give it till midday Friday before @CreativeScots reverse decision to defund @AyeWrite festival,” he posted.

“For what you get culturally, and the level of experience organisers bring, plus the calibre of talent it attracts – no-brainer.

“One of the best book festivals to deal with, hands down.”

Creative Scotland has been contacted for comment.