It’s safe to say HIF are in the late stages of recovery

After a truly bonkers July producing events we’d spent 18 months thinking weren’t going to happen.

We managed to create a fantastic day of music featuring a host of world renowned musicians, despite a call from the agent 24 hours before the gig to tell me Martin Roscoe couldn’t make it as our opening recital… ’Covid…’ I asked? ‘Nope, sneezed and put his back out’.

That tiny slice of normality in running events gave a much needed glimpse back into the reality of running day to day festivals!

We were also lucky enough to be able to ensure that the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Festival took place too, despite the planning feeling very much like a good crime novel…

Guidance from government was tricky to define, there were clues but nothing concrete, can we do this, how about this, let’s plan for that – nope not that either.  Let’s wait, oooh shiny clue there, nope it’s a red herring. This is exactly what leadership in festivals has felt like over the last 18 months and for those of us with the live events gene, fixing and solving all challenges, we found this year even harder, because we just couldn’t fix it.

However, what festivals don’t lack is positivity, hope, resilience and sheer determination. A reminder that the natural instinct during times like these is to become isolated, protect what you have, but really it is a time for working together, joining forces to increase your relevance, and we at HIF are incredibly lucky to work with a host of fantastic people who joined our vision to ensure the summer season could become a reality.

Against a backdrop of closed borders and the dreaded isolation ping we were able to create a fantastic programme thanks to Ian Rankin and the Programming Committee, our authors accepted our invitation to appear on the programme way back when building a whole new auditorium (and we really did build one) was just a dream. Our readers and audiences turned out in droves trusting us to create a safe event, and above all continue to celebrate the very best in crime fiction this summer.

Thanks to the HIF Team, who made the whole thing happen, it’s fair to say we have never worked harder, and I’m immensely grateful to all of them, our Board of Trustees, volunteers and in particular the production crew who have grafted to make the event work for us and put up with near daily calls from me usually starting with ‘but what if we did it like this instead…’ both they and our fantastic hosts The Old Swan Hotel who let us build in every nook and cranny in the grounds were truly brilliant – we honestly could not have done it without them each and every one of them, and their belief in our ‘if you build it they will come’ mantra.

As you know we are an arts charity, and events like this in normal times can only go ahead thanks to the generosity and support of our sponsors. To continue to sponsor during a pandemic when the way forward wasn’t clear was a risk.

That’s why we are immensely proud to work with our partners Theakston Old Peculier. They are a brand with spirit, heritage and most of all integrity  – moving forward with us even though we were working blindfolded was a move of loyalty and trust and I continue to be grateful to them and our other sponsors and partners for ensuring such a fantastic weekend could take place.

So now, after a short break of UK based activities, when all I really needed was a sun lounger by a pool and a large G&T, we are onto planning our next season. We’re looking forward to a host of new and exciting events to be announced in the coming days and can’t wait to share our plans with you!