A New Chapter for Democracy? Why Book Festivals Matter. A Lecture by Nick Barley


From 26 February 2019




Garage Education Center
A New Chapter for Democracy? Why Book Festivals Matter. A Lecture by Nick BarleyA New Chapter for Democracy? Why Book Festivals Matter. A Lecture by Nick Barley


In the digital age, it is sometimes argued that books and novels are outdated: that they will surely die out over the next generation. If so, how can we explain the worldwide explosion of book festivals, from Malaysia to Canada and from Argentina to Japan? Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, will prove during the lecture why reading books is still popular and how to make young people interested in it.

Nick Barley argues that literary festivals are not simply about books, but about a human urge for civil society and public discourse. As vehicles for grassroots democracy in the twenty-first century, how should organizers make sure that they provide a space for citizens of all ages and backgrounds? How can festival organizers imagine new event formats to attract marginalized groups and younger people to join their audiences? With a focus on performance, participation, and innovation, Barley will share his experiences of traveling to the best festivals worldwide, and call for courage and innovation from festival organizers, wherever they are based.

The lecture is part of the series “Theories and practices of cultural leadership” organized by Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in collaboration with the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy.


Nick Barley has been director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival since October 2009. Innovations during his directorship include Unbound, a free evening mini-festival of literary performances; the 2012 Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference which took place in seventeen cities worldwide; and a Fringe First-winning promenade theatre production, Letters Home, co-produced with Grid Iron Theatre Company in 2014. He was chair of the judging panel for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize and is President of the Word Alliance—an international network of the world’s leading literary festivals. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2018.


Free admission with advance registration.

 The lecture will be hel d in English with interpreting into Russian.

 The lecture will be accessible for deaf and hard of hearing visitors and will be interpreted into Russian Sign Language.