Organisers heartbroken as plug is pulled on Saddleworth Literary Festival

HEARTBROKEN organisers of the Saddleworth literary festival have drawn the curtain on the high profile community event for the last time.


Empty chairs tell the sad story of the festival.

They made the shock decision after attendances slumped at the two day event staged at Saddleworth School at the weekend.


The festival, in its third year, aimed to support Dr Kershaws, where their patron, well known character actor John Henshaw,  is also a patron.


But  Allan Graham poet/writer and creator of the festival, said: “This weekend we have probably had 20-30 paying guests and probably collected £5 for the hospice.


“Unfortunately, the people of Saddleworth and Oldham don’t want a community literary festival. It is therefore, with a very sad heart, festival organisers  have decided to pull the plug. There will be no more Saddleworth Literary Festivals.


“ We put 1000 leaflets out in the villages around Saddleworth, plus placards and banners on a shoestring budget.


“Saddleworth School very kindly allowed us to use the main hall and the dining area, plus the sound and lighting equipment.


“Maybe  if we advertise ‘Get drunk on literature – free bar all weekend plus Sky Sports’ we will pack the main hall.


“I know when I am flogging a dead horse and I can’t see the point in continuing to flog it. I will let it rest in peace.


“I see the disappointment on the faces of the performing guests and I feel their disappointment and embarrassment.”


He added: “If only people only knew the amount of time and energy that goes into bringing these fantastic guests to the festival.


“ It’s all here, right on their doorstep, but it isn’t wanted.”


Among the line up, Funky Fitness gave a riveting performance with their emotional drama/musical on homelessness.


Mr Graham explained: “ We attract wonderful guests, who are not only entertaining but are lovely warm people who are extremely approachable and give their precious time free of charge, because they care about festivals and communities.”


Headliners  included  Ozlem Warren, a Turkish master chef, Maddi Potter,  stage/musical singer, Ian Whiteley – rock singer/poet, Christine Green – London Literary Agent, author Jacqueline Ward, Dr. Chet Trivedy – founder of TULSI, tiger conservation, Morganico an extraordinary artist, Terence P Trout, a  classical rock guitar.


Cllr Pam Byrne, one of the festival organising committee,  said: “The public support  was abysmal.

The Children’s’ creative writing competition was only supported by the families of the winners and all the efforts of Allen – himself a published author- was a disappointment.


“The small committee who put on the festival are disappointed and wonder after all the publicity where they went wrong.


“What have the people of Saddleworth missed? They can turn out in thousands for the Grenadier Guards one day and only a handful for a Literary Festival the next…


“The organisers wonder if it is worth all the effort and then have to apologise to those wonderful authors and personalities who have supported the festival.”


John Henshaw added: “Its terribly disappointing, particularly as Saddleworth  is such a literary area. Graham has put everything into the event backed by the committee.”


Adult tickets for the festival were just £5 and covered two days entry. Children and students were free.

9 Replies to “Organisers heartbroken as plug is pulled on Saddleworth Literary Festival”

  1. Can’t blame the public if they didn’t know about it.
    I walk my dog every day into Uppermill and didn’t notice any advertising in any of the cafes I use or on any community spaces.
    Perhaps you should try moving into the modern eara and use technology to engage with your audience.
    Spend money on advertising and you’ll reap the rewards.

    1. HI Iain,

      We do not make a profit and we spent our OWN money trying to advertise the event. We apologise for the fact you didn’t know about us.


  2. I agree it wasn’t publisised very well at all. I saw nothing about the event on social media which is where it needs to be.

    1. Hi Sue,

      We published an abundance of information on social media AND we spent our own money trying to advertise it. We don’t make a profit. We barely cove costs.

      We apologise about the fact you didn’t know about it.

      -Ryan(Saddleworth Literary Festival)

  3. The only reason I knew about it, was because one of my friends was reading her poetry; apart from that I was unaware of any advertising. Unfortunately I was unable to attend, but I believe not one person turned up! It’s so disheartening for the performers.

  4. I saw a small amount of advertising, BUT, I have to say that it didn’t actually explain what the Literary festival was actually offering.
    I did try to read about it, and I gathered that there were going to be poets reading their work. Nothing about each poet or their work, and as far as I saw there seemed not much else.
    I may have enjoyed hearing some of the writers, but certainly not so much.
    There were no workshops to join in (were there?)
    Was there any story telling? Prose?
    And finally, my partner is a writer in a small local group, several are published writers, and there are larger groups in the area too, but they were not approached with any details about the Literary Festival, that may have been a way to generate some more interest. There are other groups nearby too, a poetry group in Marple knew nothing, such a shame, a poster could have been emailed to groups for no outlay.
    I don’t intend to sound so negative, i suppose I am trying to excuse myself and many others of the local community who did not support the festival. It is sad that it has not proved a popular event, but maybe it is its current form which has been the problem.
    IF anyone does feel like trying again in the future, then I suggest looking for a bit of financial backing, from local firms or community grants; also looking at a new format, an Arts & Literacy festival perhaps?

  5. So sorry , I would have been interested but saw no publicity about it. The Grenadier Guards were all over social media probably at no cost to them and no one got drunk!

  6. I myself have seen the time and energy that has been put into this festival, it is such a good thing and a definite shame it has come to this. It’s an amazing event and should be more recognised! Every one who was involved put their all into it and more. I completely agree with Graham, it’s through no fault of the slf team why the curtain has been drawn on this lovely event, the team simply can’t vouch for people to recognise advertisements, it is merely down to the people to notice events like this taking place but it a real shame. All of the slf team are absolute credits and they all know that they put their all into it and more and that’s all they could do, amazing people for putting this together in the first place 🙂

  7. I saw absolutley no publicity for this event but as another commenter noted did see a huge amount for the Grenadier guards, Please don’t assume that all the people of Saddleworth want is beer and sky sports – this is an extremely condescending comment.

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