Sunday, March 27, 2011

On the hunt for IOM-based reading groups

Without wanting to state the bleeding obvious, the Isle of Man's reading groups (who who knows, maybe even further afield) will be a key market for Manx Litfest.

They are out there. We know they exist. We've spoken to one or two, but there are a whole gaggle of reading groups of whom we're not aware. Over the next month or so, we're looking to put that right. As part of the drive to get the Manx Litfest name out there, we want to make contact with groups and, hopefully, go along and meet them.

This will give serve two main purposes - it will give us the chance to let the groups know about the festival and what it entails; and, second, it will give the groups the opportunity to tell us what, and who, they'd like to see at the festival.

So, if you're a member of a reading group, get in touch and let's get talking. If you know of a group, either pass on their details to us, or tell them to get in touch with us at manxlitfest(at)

Cheers for listening, folks.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Up and running...

Couple of things to report on:

Our first formal meeting takes place tomorrow night (Weds March 23) and, if the size of the agenda is anything to go by, we should be finished by this time next week. We're going to need plenty of tea bags, that's for sure, not to mention a tonne of biscuits.

There are a few key issues that will take centre stage tomorrow - establishing the committee, looking at extra posts we need to create (and fill) and how best to utilise the growing army of people (that's you kind folk out there) who have offered to get involved and help out in some way.

We need to start draw up a shortlist of potential dates between June and October 2012 for when the festival can be held. And we need to get a bank account opened and the festival up and running as formal organisation.

The need for a bank account leads into our second bit of news. We received confirmation from the Isle of Man Arts Council that it is awarding us a grant for the 2011/12 financial year, to help towards admin costs and publicity materials. We're hugely grateful for this funding, as it gives us a starting platform. However, if we're to do everything that needs to be done over the coming twelve months, then we're going to need more finance.

While this blog suits its purpose, we need to start thinking about creating a festival website. Ideally, we need to visit a festival in the UK to see how it operates, to meet and talk with organisers, punters and authors. And there is a raft of additional expenses that will be incurred during the next year.

So we'll be seeking some corporate sponsorship, not to mention any wealthy individuals who a) love books and b) have a desire to help bring this festival to life. If you are one of these individuals, then please do get in touch. If you know anyone who may fit this description, please pass on our details to them.

So there you have it. During the next couple of weeks we should be set on a formal footing, and begin to plot a steady course towards the first festival taking place in the second half of next year.

These are exciting times - if you're behind what we're planning to do, show your support and, if you can, get involved. As the event draws closer, we'll need more and more assistance.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

We called, you answered...

We asked for potential venues. And, by 'eck, you gave them to us. Some we already had on our list, others we'd not considered. But each and every one of them has some degree of potential.
We'd already spoken with Manx National Heritage regarding its sites and Tynwald Mills/St John's Mill, and received a warm thumbs up for all, subject, of course, to various factors. In terms of heritage sites, we're looking at Castle Rushen, Peel Castle, Rushen Abbey, Manx Museum, Cregneash, Sound Cafe and so on. And later this month we're also meeting the owner of Greeba Castle, the one-time home of the late great Manx novelist, Sir Hall Caine.

So, alongside the likes of bookstores and libraries, where else is in the mix? Here are some suggestions we received - and thanks to Trish for many of these, and Angela and Harry at Bridge Bookshop in Port Erin for several others:
  • Erin Arts Centre
  • Callows Yard
  • Villa Marina
  • King William's College
  • Bradda Glen (being refurbed)
  • Laxey Pavilion
  • Ard Whallin & Eairy Cushlin - supper and ghost stories perhaps?
  • Peel Centenary Centre
  • Noble's Park
  • Snaefell Cafe (being refurbished, apparently)
  • The Old Prison on Victoria Road - 'a great location for crime/thriller fan' (thanks, Ady). Guess it will depend on what happens with the site over the next year or so
  • The Grandstand
  • Home of Rest for Old Horses
  • The refurbed 'Bowl' stadium
  • The old amphitheatre on Douglas Head
  • Various golf courses/clubhouses
  • Sulby Claddaghs
  • Silverdale
  • The Island's fantastic glens
  • Campsites, such as Glen Wyllin
  • A variety of pubs, most of which have function rooms which could be used
  • Restaurants, such as the Garisson, which has a private area upstairs
  • Town halls/civic centres
There are more, of course, and over the next few months we'll consider them all and speak to those involved with the sites to assess their suitability and the practicalities of putting on events.
Thanks again to everyone who gave us input - much appreciated. As I keep saying, we need as much support from you lot out there, the reading public, to make this festival happen.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lit Fest venues - any suggestions?

One of the most important elements for Manx Lit Fest will be the venues we choose for the various events.

From the outset, we've been keen to create something that punters will savour as an 'experience', rather than just another talk in a character-less conference room. If we're going to charge people X number of pounds for an event, then we want to give them something that little bit extra.

Yesterday we were out meeting the team at Tynwald Mills and St John's Mill. They gave us some great words of encouragement, and threw some ideas into the pot for good measure. If you've never had a look around St John's Mill, you're missing out. It's a cracking centre, ideal for events from small groups up to 90-odd, although it can take upwards of 150 in total across the three floors. Great potential as a venue for some elements of the festival, as is Tynwald Mills itself.

Tomorrow (Thursday) we're meeting Manx National Heritage to discuss using the likes of Castle Rushen, Peel Castle and Rushen Abbey as venues. Initial discussion suggests MNH is keen to get involved, and hopefully there will be more to update after tomorrow.
Other possible sites (and these are just ideas at this stage, as we've not met with owners yet) are Greeba Castle, Milntown and the Nunnery.

So what other venues around the Island do you think may lend themselves to the festival? Let us know, and we'll consider them all.