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OCA events: Hexham Book Festival   - The Open College of the Arts
To find out more details about the transfer to The Open University see A New Chapter for OCA.
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OCA events: Hexham Book Festival  

There’s something really special about hearing an author read or talk about their own work. An audience can gain insights into the writer’s intended tone, and it can bring all kinds of new interpretations to the work. 

For students, it can be a chance too to ask questions about an author’s process or inspiration. If the author is also offering a workshop, then this too can enable them to pass on their best tips and techniques.

In many ways, the coronavirus pandemic that closed down so many events over the last year was a blow to those running the kind of literature and book festivals that are such fun to attend. Some, such as the prestigious Hay Festival, put all their events online – which was a delight for those of us who would otherwise never have the chance to grab tickets for such luminaries as Maggie O’Farrell or Ali Smith. But it didn’t have quite same atmosphere as being in the same room as your favourite writer (and it didn’t bring in the usual visitors and related income).

Festivals are also important for writers, who can promote their books to a new audience and potentially increase sales, as well as maintaining that all-important connection with readers. 

This year, some festivals are staying online, to prevent having to cancel at a later date. But the established Hexham Festival, established in 2006, is planning to go ahead next month in beautiful Northumberland. 

We’re delighted that three of our creative writing tutors will be running workshops at the event. Vicky MacKenzie will be running a workshop for young people aged 16 – 20 on experimental writing (10th July, 1300 BST). Garry MacKenzie will be running a workshop also aimed at young writers aged 16 – 20 on writing about animals (10th July, 1530 BST). And screenwriting expert Inga Pelosi Leighton will be setting out the challenges of turning a book into a screenplay (11th July, 1100 BST) in a workshop aimed at adults.

OCA students can get a discount on tickets for any of these events with a password of ACO21. The full price is £15 plus a booking fee, but the price for OCA students is £11 plus a 59p booking fee. All the details for the workshops are below: 




Check out the rest of the programme too, as it’s a chance to hear about American Politics with James Naughtie, English Nationalism with Gavin Esler and what really makes us hungry with Grace Dent. Among the other big names are Jung Chang, Loyd Grossman, hill farmer and nature writer James Rebanks, performance poet Hollie McNish and there is a range of children’s events too. If you’re local to the north-east, don’t miss it, and if not and you’ve never visited that part of the country, it’s well worth a staycation (I promise I don’t get commission from the Northumberland tourist board!). 

All we have to do now is keep our fingers crossed for an in-person event and some un-traditional Northumbrian weather!

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Posted by author: Barbara Henderson
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