The Bradford Literature Festival team is led by self-confessed book worm Syima Aslam (right) and filmophile Irna Qureshi (left), who decided to combine their passions to create a cultural and literary extravaganza celebrating the written and spoken word. The result is a festival that will not only host renowned authors, speakers and performers from around the world to create a stimulating pageant of words, debates and ideas, but will also feature other art forms which have an intimate relationship with the spoken word such as film, theatre and music.
They are both passionate about the importance of language and literacy, and the role it plays in enabling children and young people to realise their potential. An understanding of the English language is crucial to the understanding of every other subject in the curriculum, and the inability to effectively use and deploy language is a key reason for under attainment. However, an understanding and appreciation of language cannot come from school alone, it has to come from a love of the language in all its forms. The aim of the festival is to help take literacy out of the classroom, by inspiring parents and children, through innovative festival and outreach programmes.
The Festival Team
Operations Manager – Jamie Cross
Jamie is responsible for organising festival operations and logistics. A role that suits him to the ground as it means that he gets to run around a lot telling people what to do. That being said, Jamie manages everything from the volunteers to the box-office and everything in-between, so a little bossyness is definitely a pre-requisite of the role! As a professional festival organiser Jamie works on all sorts of events throughout the year, and has implemented a chocolate reward policy which has gone down exceedingly well with the BLF team.
Book recommendation: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Film Recommendation: Rocky IV
Marketing & Sponsorship Executive – Georgina Lennon
George deals with everything from the festival brochure to the Twitter account and a million other things besides. Caught between her love for Yorkshire and her Italian roots she is a fiery, Yorkshire Pudding Professional and the only thing she loves more than pasta is her dog (Hugo Stiglitz!), with whom she is completely obsessed. Aside from being a self-confessed book addict, George loves film, TV and music; she is equally at home curled up on the sofa with Tony Soprano as she is crammed in at the front of a venue being crushed by aging rockers.
Book recommendation: American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Film recommendation: Janis: Little Girl Blue
Production Executive – Ruth Mather
Being the production exec at a literature festival means Ruth spends her time researching new and exciting writers, speakers and artists to wow you with at the festival. Essentially she gets to read a lot; something she obviously enjoys, since before joining the festival team she filled her days working towards a PhD in History (ooh er Dr. Ruth!). When she doesn’t have her nose stuck in a book, Ruth enjoys walking up hills, a hobby she fuels through a love of veggie cooking and baking (particularly the eating part). All else is eclipsed however by the one, true, furry love of Ruth’s life – Clio, her ridiculously fluffy cat.
Book recommendation: The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante
Film recommendation: Wristcutters: A Love Story
Production Assistant – Rebecca Duncan
Becca’s job involves doing a little bit of absolutely everything! Having moved to Bradford after studying for her degree in York, she’s not in fact native to the area, however she’s quite pleased with the decision since it perfectly suits her love of curry. Aside from reading books, Becca considers herself something of a Culture Vulture, spending her time in museums and theatres, and exploring the best that her new home city has to offer.
Book suggestion: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Film suggestion: The Commitments
Literacy & Engagement Assistant – Scarlet Brearley
Scarlet’s job involves working on our schools programme and making sure that as many people as possible are able to enjoy the festival. She studied English and American Studies at the University of Nottingham, yet controversially decided to do a year abroad in Canada; ask her about anything Canada related (so long as you’re prepared for a lengthy conversation). Scarlet considers herself something of a coffee and red wine connoisseur, since she’s usually seen with one or the other in her hand!
Book recommendation: On Beauty by Zadie Smith
Film recommendation: Sleepless in Seattle
Marketing Assistant – Mariam Jabeen
As the Marketing Assistant, Mariam helps to support everything from digital marketing to print. A bubbly, Yorkshire lass with a proper Northern accent, she is a part time girly-girl, mixing her love of fashion with an obsession for cars and gaming. When she’s not out feeding her shoe addiction she’s fixed to her PS4! The way to Mariam’s heart is through food, if she can’t be found in the office it’s probably because she’s out shopping for her next meal.
Book recommendation: Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill
Film recommendation: Lights Out