Festival content will be streamed online across Wales this year; meanwhile Festival agrees to fund Hay public library which had been threatened with closure
This year, for the very first time, every primary and secondary school in Wales will have free online access to Hay Festival, thanks to a new initiative in partnership with the Welsh Government.
On Thursday 25 May (KS 2) and Friday 26 May (KS 3 and 4), Hay Festival welcomes thousands of pupils on site to enjoy a carefully curated programme of talks and performances, and a chance to meet scientists, explorers, historians and award-winning novelists.
Speakers include: Holly Bourne, Alwyn Hamilton, Melinda Salisbury, Kim Slater, Katherine Webber, Daniel Morden, Teri Terry, Phil Earle, Pete Kalu, Jenny Valentine, Jim Smith, Steve Mould, Maz Evans, Philip Ardagh, Steve Cole, Nicola Davies, Gary Northfield, Ali Sparkes, Guy Bass, John Dougherty, Shane Hegarty and Emma Carroll
Packs of educational resources have been distributed to every state school in Wales with materials to support teaching and learning before, during and after the Festival.
Aine Venables, Hay Festival education manager, said: "Giving schools the chance to hear some of the best writers of today is central to our work. This year, following higher than ever demand for our Schools Programme, and thanks to the support of the Welsh Government, we are thrilled to live-stream our events to schools across the country. Reading, and engaging with writers, can be transformative for young people – it is wonderful to share the Hay Festival experience digitally."
Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams, said: "It’s fantastic that more schoolchildren than ever before are able to experience the buzz surrounding Hay Festival. I’m sure Hay has in no small part inspired many a budding author, poet, playwright and wordsmith. Some experiences are hard to shake, in the best way possible. They stick with you, and more importantly, stir the imagination. We do not need to instil it in children but should encourage and assist what is already there."
Meanwhile the Festival has agreed to continue to underwrite part of the costs of the library in Hay. In a statement the Festival said: "Good libraries are not just buildings filled with shelves of books. They are doorways to the past and to the future, to wonder and joy, and lives lived in other shoes. They are part of how we understand other people. A good local library should not be a luxury. It is a right.
"It is essential that communities of all shapes and sizes have access to them. We want the best library we could possibly have. A place of sanity and imagination. That Hay-on-Wye’s library faces closure is alarming. If the ‘town of books’ is at risk, what hope does anywhere else have? The festival's financial support is a short-term fix for a long-term problem, which we will continue to seek solutions to within our community. We all do, however, have a responsibility to our local library. They don’t just need money. They need our attention. Our attendance. Our championing."
Pictured: Hay Festival during a schools day (credit Elisabeth Broekaert)