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War of words erupts over county literary festival
DRAMATIC twists worthy of any great novel have rocked the Worcestershire Literary Festival (WLF).
It has been a turbulent period for the festival, which has seen the current committee disbanded, a short-lived relaunch as the Worcestershire Festival of Words, followed by a potential change of ownership.
Launched in 2011 by Lisa Ventura, the 10-day festival featuring lectures, competitions and workshops, takes place in June with extra events running throughout the year.
But last Monday, festival director and founder Mrs Ventura disbanded the WLF committee by e-mail, with plans to relaunch as the Worcestershire Festival of Words.
By Tuesday evening, a war of words had erupted on Facebook, including comments by former director Martin Driscoll, who claimed his directorship had been terminated with Companies House by Mrs Ventura against his will.
Mrs Ventura claimed in order to be a director, Mr Driscoll did not fill out paperwork within a deadline to make him a business member of the organisation – a claim Mr Driscoll denies.
Following the online backlash, Mrs Ventura told your Worcester News she would be reconsidering her involvement before an announcement appeared on the festival’s official website stating ownership would be transferred to Mr Driscoll “as soon as he returns my call, voicemail, text messages”.
Mrs Ventura said nobody had been sacked from the WLF and committee members had still been welcome to come on board with the Festival of Words, pending a review.
She believed the festival had been moving in a different direction to its original intention and had hoped the re-brand would focus its aims.
“After three years there were less events compared to 2011 and the majority of those were in Worcester and not in the county,” she said.
The literary festival has become a notable addition to a busy calendar of festivals held in Worcester, which includes Worcester Festival, Worcester Music Festival and Worcester Beer Festival.
Last year, it won the highly commended award in the best festival and event category in the Worcestershire Welcome awards.
Following the disbandment, Mr Driscoll said they would be looking to set up another literary festival and talks were due to take place to see how that would work going forward.
”Worry not, Worcestershire will have some kind of festival which supports the community as a whole and we will rise again like a phoenix from the flames,” he said.
“There will be something new and the committee will reform for something else.”
The 59-year-old said the literary festival, like all festivals, had its problems but they were always developing.
“During the first festival we had more than 130 events, which was perhaps too much going on, so we have looked to refine that and tweak it year on year,” he added.
“It wasn’t a Garden of Eden throughout but the committee we have, and the committee we will have, works so hard.”
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