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Hay Festival and Lviv BookForum unveil partnership to defend free expression

Sofia Cheliack (programme director) opening a previous edition of Lviv BookForum

Ukrainian literature will be brought to a global audience of millions in a new digital partnership announced today between Ukraine’s largest literature festival, Lviv BookForum, and leading literary charity and global ideas platform Hay Festival.

Taking place 6-9 October, the 29th Lviv BookForum in Ukraine aims to create a civic space for a free and tolerant exchange of ideas between writers and readers around the world.

The hybrid programme – part in-person and part through virtual live appearances – will blend renowned Ukrainian writers with internationally acclaimed literary figures in conversations ranging art in times of conflict, memory, gender-equality, loss, corruption, imperialism, and hope.

As digital partner for the first time, Hay Festival will broadcast these conversations free online in English, Spanish and Ukrainian at hayfestival.org/lviv-bookforum to a global audience of millions, while bolstering the programme with a specially curated strand of online events pairing international writers with their Ukrainian contemporaries. 

The project represents a continuation of Hay Festival’s support for the country after naming the DEC’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal as official charity partner of the most recent edition in Wales.

Lviv BookForum’s partnership with Hay Festival takes place as a part of the UK/Ukraine Season of Culture devised jointly by the British Council and the Ukrainian Institute, giving voice to Ukrainian creatives and focusing on the changing needs and priorities of the Ukrainian cultural sector.

Lviv BookForum is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with Zinc Network as a supporting partner.

Lviv BookForum curator and translator Sofia Cheliak said: “Our 29th Lviv BookForum will tell our story to the world. We wish to illuminate what is happening in Ukraine and why. And we explain it with the help of culture. We also want to show the Ukrainian audience how the artists around the globe stand with us in solidarity, that Ukrainian authors and their voices are needed and valued more than ever. We could not do this without the support of Hay Festival. The authors who will come to Lviv and join us online are people who understand: their actions are a manifestation of strength and fight for Ukraine and, foremost, for a democratic world. This festival is another proof that Ukraine will win – with its own efforts and the efforts of colleagues, partners, and friends from all over the world.”

Hay Festival international director Cristina Fuentes La Roche said: “With freedom of expression under attack globally, organisations such as Hay Festival and Lviv BookForum are more important than ever before as catalysts for change by exercising freedom of speech and the tolerant exchange of ideas. We hugely admire the Lviv BookForum team and their mission and wish to support them in accessing our global audience of curious minds and influential stakeholders.”

Hay Festival CEO Julie Finch said: “For 36 years, Hay Festival has lit a beacon for enlightenment, bringing writers and readers together in events that inspire, examine and entertain. In a volatile world of anger and corrupted language, we champion empathy and curiosity; stories and truths are told, ideas are shared, and audiences are encouraged to imagine the world from other perspectives and with renewed and audacious hope. This new partnership, an exciting expansion of our global work with the British Council, will bring new audiences to Lviv BookForum and champion their essential work.”

Ukraine/UK Season Director at the British Council David Codling said: “The purpose of the UK Ukraine Season, devised in partnership with the British Council and the Ukrainian Institute, is to celebrate cultural exchange between our two countries and the vital importance of free expression and independent critical discourse at this time. We are delighted and honoured to be collaborating with the Lviv BookForum, through our strategic partnership with Hay Festival, to bring the events to a global audience. This new dimension to the British Council’s longstanding relationship with Hay Festival reflects our shared commitment to international literary conversations and our solidarity with Ukraine, a country whose literary culture always has much to contribute but more urgently than ever now.”

Ukrainian Institute Director General Volodymyr Sheiko said: “Lviv BookForum has been one of Ukraine’s key platforms for intellectual exchange and debate. It is crucial for Ukrainian and international writers and creatives to come together and reflect on universal issues that shape, define, and divide the world today. I am delighted that the partnership with Hay Festival will amplify these powerful voices and deliver them to a global audience.”

The full programme will be announced mid-September at hayfestival.org/lviv-bookforum.