• Authors include Grayson Perry, Marian Keyes, Ben Okri, Stacey Dooley, Nadiya Hussain, Candice Carty-Williams, Cash Carraway, Tracy Chevalier, Elizabeth Day, Bernardine Evaristo, Salena Godden, Kerry Hudson, Val McDermid , Michael Morpurgo, Philippa Perry, Jay Rayner and Elif Shafak

• More authors to be announced

• Words Weekend partners will be Open Clasp Theatre Company, Sage Gateshead’s CoMusica Arches Academy Alternative Curriculum, Forum Books, New Writing North, and City of Dreams.

• Over 25% of events are free and all events are fully accessible and BSL interpreted.

• All authors will be paid according to a favoured nations fee structure

Fane Productions today announces the first names for brand new festival WORDS WEEKEND which runs at Sage Gateshead from 6 – 8 December 2019. The festival, programmed by leading literary event producers Fane Productions will feature an exceptional international line-up whilst also championing diversity, accessibility and the rich talent and culture of the North East.

Working closely with Fane Productions to deliver this vision are Words Weekend ambassadors: writer, film maker and broadcaster David Olusoga (who is himself from Gateshead), literary agent Karolina Sutton, and curator, audio producer, filmmaker and editor-in-chief of gal-dem magazine Liv Little. In an unprecedented move for the literary events industry, all authors will be paid according to a completely transparent Favoured Nations Fee Structure. Additional Words Weekend festivals are planned for 2020 at the Lowry in Salford and Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.

Highlights announced today include Turner Prize winning artist Grayson Perry making his Gateshead debut. Turkey’s most widely read female writer novelist Elif Shafak on the power of words and stories to unite communities. Author, playwright and performer Cash Carraway (SKINT ESTATE) in conversation with Kerry Hudson (Lowborn) on poverty, motherhood and survival in austerity Britain. Kerry Hudson will also be the closing keynote of the festival on Sunday evening. Candice Carty-Williams talks to Liv Little about her extraordinary debut novel Queenie and there is a rare opportunity to hear Booker Prize winning Nigerian author Ben Okri read his poetry and discuss his most recent novel The Freedom Artist.

Over fifty events and workshops will take place across five different spaces of the iconic Gateshead venue, with diversity and accessibility at the heart of the programming. Over 25% of events are free and all are fully accessible and BSL interpreted, with a roaming interpreter facilitating conversations throughout the venue. For more information about accessibility at Words Weekend please see www.wordsweekend.com.

Other programme highlights include Bernardine Evaristo in conversation with David Olusoga about her new book Girl, Woman, Other and what it means to be British today; in her first North East appearance Stacey Dooley discusses her remarkable career, and themes ranging from gender equality, to sex trafficking and sexual identity. Nadiya Hussain considers her roles as mother, Muslim, working woman and celebrity and questions the barriers which many women must cross to be accepted or heard. Broadcaster and psychotherapist Philippa Perry shares thoughts from her Sunday Times Bestseller The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did); her daughter Flo Perry teaches us How To Have Feminist Sex, Elizabeth Day gives an insightful celebration of failure inspired by her popular podcast and book How To Fail; and novelist and performance poet Carmen Marcus (How Saints Die) explains how we can use magical realism and folktales to tackle real-life problems.

Spoken word trailblazers Apples and Snakes have curated Born Lippy which features an incredible line-up of Zambian-born Newcastle-raised actor, rapper, singer Kema Kay (I, Daniel Blake and one-man show Shine which has recently opened to sell-out audiences), one of Britain’s foremost poets Salena Godden and record-breaking beatboxer, hip-hop MC, poet, beatboxer and theatre maker Testament. OneTrackMinds is a cross between Desert Island Discs, The Moth Radio Hour and TED Talks as a vibrant selection of writers, thinkers and poets tell a story about how music has changed their lives.

Newcastle-based Open Clasp Theatre Company, a Words Weekend charitable partner, is a leading force in the north of England working with women and girls on the margins of society. Words Weekend will host a screening of their filmed play Rattle Snake based on real life stories of women who have faced and survived domestic abuse. The event will feature a Q+A with writer, director and cast, as a culmination event to the UN’S 16 days of action tackling domestic abuse and coercive control. Catrina McHugh MBE from Open Clasp Theatre said “We’re so excited to be part of the incredible line up at the first ever Words Weekend, and it’s a real honour to be a charitable partner for the festival – we’re both so passionate about sharing real life stories and it’s a fantastic opportunity to share Rattle Snake with a wider audience and raise awareness of coercive control.”

Tracy Chevalier talks about her new novel A Single Thread, there’s Michael Morpurgo’s Best Christmas Present in Concert, Jay Rayner discusses his new book My Last Supper and Marian Keyes in conversation with a very special guest. And there’s more with Horrible Histories Roadshow with Terry Deary, Supergroup The Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers: Val McDermid, Mark Billingham, Chris Brookmyre, Stuart Neville, Luca Veste and Doug Johnstone in a panel followed by a gig, a second chance to see a screening of the sell-out Margaret Atwood Live celebrating the publication of Handmaid’s Tale sequel The Testaments; Mari Hannah, Fiona Cummins, Trevor Wood and Amer Anwar tell us about writing the perfect crime novel and Language Party is a free public participation storytelling event that celebrates bilingualism in the ‘International Year of Indigenous Languages’.

Scientific strands at Words Weekend include ocean expert and scientific advisor for BBC’s Blue Planet II Dr Jon Copley discussing the mysteries of the deep and Professor Trevor Cox exploring the phenomenon of the human voice using scientific analysis and musical interludes. There will be a number of free Industry Insight panels and masterclasses with Society of Authors and Creative Access and a spotlight on one of the most exciting indie publishers in the UK Galley Beggar whose award-winning novels and non-fiction include works by writers Preti Taneja, Alex Pheby, Paul Ewen and Toby Litt, who will all come together for this special one-off event.

Words Weekend partners will include previously mentioned Newcastle-based award-winning Open Clasp Theatre Company, award-winning Northumberland-based independent bookshop Forum Books and education partner Arches Academy and Sage Gateshead’s CoMusica Arches Project: a space for alternative education and engagement programmes based around contemporary culture. Sandy Duff, from Sage Gateshead’s CoMusica Arches Project said: “CoMusica Arches at Sage Gateshead is excited to be involved with Words Weekend, an event whose inclusive ethos reflects our own. Young people from diverse backgrounds find creative expression in our unique spaces – it will be fantastic to work with a festival who are keen to make connections with North East communities and find out what they want to say.”

Other partners include New Writing North who support writing and reading in the North of England; and Aikuma Project, whose mission is to strengthen minority languages in urban centres. Words Weekend is an Unlimited Ally, part of network of over 200 UK and international arts venues, festivals and organisations working with and championing disabled artists and Unlimited commissioned work; is also part of the City of Dreams network which partners with arts organisations in Newcastle and Gateshead to engage under 25s in the arts to address challenges of poverty, falling educational attainment and a lack of career aspirations in the city and partnering with CREATIVE ACCESS working to fill the gap in the current creative landscape by helping young people from black, Asian and other non-white minority ethnic backgrounds, as well as those with a lower socioeconomic status, to secure both jobs and paid training opportunities in creative companies.