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SO: To Speak returns in October

SO: To Speak

SO: To Speak Festival as seen on its Facebook page

Southampton’s Festival of Words SO: To Speak, is set to return to the city on 19–29 October with more than 60 events.

Supported by a £30,000 grant from Arts Council England, the festival will showcase the city’s own talents as well as bringing nationally known authors, historians and poets to Southampton.

Charlie Hislop of Southampton Festivals, told Access that with the Arts Council support they have been able to commission two writers to produce live work for the festival.

Hislop revealed that the funding also allowed the organiser to host the premier of a commissioned Jane Austen play steeped in Southampton heritage, building on commissions made in the past.

“So as well as delivering a great festival in the city we are able to fund and support new creativity, which is what Southampton Festivals, as a for love-not-profit company, is here for,” he said.

Local organisations and venues are working with organisers Southampton Festivals to bring the city alive with theatre, poetry, spoken word, comedy, history and author talks, as well as workshops for writers. Taking place over half term, there are also events for children and young adults.

Nuffield Theatres Southampton, The Arthouse, Maskers Theatre Company, ArtfulScribe and the Library service are the leading partners in the festival. SO: To Speak will also include open mic sessions and a return of Words in the City, an open performance afternoon which this year will feature a public poetry contest.

Grant for the arts

It’s the second time that Arts Council England awards a grant to the festival through its Lottery-funded Grants for the Arts programme.

Phil Gibby, area director, South West, Arts Council England, commented: “We’re really proud to invest £30, 000 in the SO: To Speak Festival for the second time. This award helps to support the development of writers, storytellers, spoken word artists, and other creative talent in the city.

“The festival adds to the growing reputation of Southampton’s cultural scene, and helps to instil a sense of pride in the community.

The many free performances and participatory events will engage more people in literature, helping to achieve our mission of great art and culture for everyone.”

The full programme for the festival will be announced in two weeks’ time, when tickets will go on sale for some events.

Southampton Festivals is a not for profit company that aims to bring the festival spirit to the city by providing a platform and support for local artists, and work for young people in the creative industries.