St Michael & All Angels has run the Chiswick Book Festival for ten years. It was founded by the Vicar Fr Kevin Morris and the Festival director Torin Douglas in 2009, with the active support of Dinah Garrett as the Festival administrator and two supporters of St Michael’s in the book world – Jacks Thomas, managing director of Midas PR (now director of the London Book Fair), and her husband Malcolm Edwards, then the deputy chairman of Orion Books.
Why does St Michael’s run a book festival?
- It’s an important part of the church’s outreach in the community, bringing people into the church and parish hall and taking the church out into Chiswick and the wider world.
- It helps fulfil the Vicar’s vision of the arts as a way of inspiring people and lifting the spirits and for the church to engage intellectually with people across a wide range of backgrounds and beliefs.
- It fulfils the original purpose of regenerating St Michael & All Angels Parish Hall (in the year 2000-2001) as a centre for the whole community, education and the arts.
- It raises thousands of pounds for charities and the church.
What has been the impact of the Chiswick Book Festival?
- It has brought hundreds of people and dozens of the UK’s top authors into the church and hall.
- It has been enthusiastically received by local people, many of whom have been vocal in their thanks to the church and the organisers (in the latest audience survey by SurveyMonkey, the words most often used were ‘very good’ and ‘excellent’, followed by ‘stimulating’, ‘enlightening’, ‘enjoyable’, ‘inspirational’, ‘entertaining’, ‘exciting’, ‘engaging’, ‘fascinating’, ‘fantastic’, ‘educational, ‘friendly’, ‘very organised’, ‘well organised’, ‘ superb’ , ‘informative’, ‘community’, ‘neighbourhood feel’).
- In nine years, it has raised around £70,000 for reading charities and the church (more than a quarter of this has gone to St Michael’s to offset the organisational costs).
- It has established itself as one of the major annual events in Chiswick, generating many articles and videos in local media, and national coverage.
- It has enabled the church to engage with a wider community through social media (after Waterstone’s tweeted a diary note for the 10th Chiswick Book Festival, one reply was @W4BookFest is a highlight of my year. Come along and join us, all things literary in lovely #W4.)
- It has provided a focal point for St Michael’s to bring together the cultural organisations in Chiswick, by forging close relationships with the Arts Educational Schools, Chiswick House, the Tabard Theatre, Chiswick Library, Waterstone’s, the Bedford Park Society and The Arts Society Chiswick – and with local businesses who wish to support community events in Chiswick, including the Bedford Park Festival.