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Belfast Book Festival to operate pay-what-you-want policy

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The Belfast Book Festival is to operate a new policy

The Belfast Book Festival is to operate a new policy

Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Belfast Book Festival is to operate a new policy

The Belfast Book Festival is to operate a pay-what-you-want policy for the first time.

The festival is taking place at the Crescent Arts Centre in south Belfast from June 10-19.

And while they'll recommend a ticket price of £7 for each event, audience members can attend all its readings and events without paying a penny.

Speaking to the BBC, chief executive of the Crescent Arts Centre Sophie Hayles said they decided to introduce the pay-what-you-want policy partly due to the rising cost of living.

"There are increasing prices to pretty much everything and more increases to hit. So we wanted to create an environment and approach that was as accessible as possible.

"We were also thinking about how our audiences value things and how we in turn as a festival value things. We don't have a hierarchy of value or say something is worth more than something else, but we give that decision to the customer.

"They decide how they value something."

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The festival also hopes to attract people to the centre who had perhaps not attended before.

Ms Hayles said: "We're so lucky because we're a festival with a building - we have a home - so this year we've been really thinking about home and what home means. So as part of that we've been thinking about how we use our home a bit more, open our doors a bit more.

"It is a risk but it's a calculated risk and I hope it gives us more conversation points with audiences and people give us feedback."

The Crescent will monitor and evaluate how this new approach will affect ticketing and finance, added Ms Hayles.

One of the world's largest arts festivals, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, is also running some pay-what-you-want shows in August 2022.

For the 50 events at the festival, people can choose to pay nothing when they book but also to pay more than the recommended ticket price.

For workshops at the festival, however, there will be a charge.


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