Essex Book Festival prepares for new chapter as charity

Charley Boorman Adventurer Charley Boorman is among the authors taking part in this year's festival

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Organisers of a literary festival being run as a charity for the first time believe it will be stronger than ever.

The Essex Book Festival was previously organised for 12 years by Essex County Council, but for 2012 it has been taken over by a board of volunteers.

Poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion and author Jodi Picoult are among a 70-event line-up taking place in March.

Board chair Seona Ford said: "I think it will mean no difference in terms of what our audience expects."

Mrs Ford explained it was decided a not-for-profit organisation - Essex Book Festival Ltd - be set up to run the event.

She said: "This meant we had access to seek funding in a way we hadn't been able to do before.

"We got a very significant grant from the Arts Council to look at diversifying in the way we are offering the festival.

"So instead of cutting back the festival, which we may have had to this year, we're offering much more activities than in the past."

These include new venues, specific events for children and practical events such as bookbinding courses, which have not been held before.

The county council will still lend support to the festival through grants, and its libraries will continue to be used as venues for the events.

There also be events at the new arts facilities at Firstsite in Colchester and Hadleigh Old Fire Station.

Among the other writers appearing at this year's festival are authors Barbara Eskine and Prue Leith, historian Dr Kate Williams and TV adventurer Charley Boorman.

Tickets for the festival went on sale on 4 January.

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