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Board closes office and postpones South African International Festival of Books (Bookeish!) indefinitely.

Interim fundraising targets had not been reached when the Board of the South African International Festival of Books (Bookeish!) met at the beginning of July. The Board was reluctant to compromise the success of the venture and agreed to a postponement.

Chairman Stephen Johnson explains: 'We set ourselves an ambitious goal of raising some R5 million to cover the cost of the Festival itself and a number of complementary cultural events.

'In view of the postponement we have agreed to close the Bookeish! office. The Board has paid tribute to Graeme Bloch as Director as well as his staff for the tremendous effort put into conceptualising Bookeish! and laying the foundation for what will undoubtedly be a great project in due course.

'We are confident that the energy and enthusiasm displayed by all who have been associated with Bookeish! has already contributed significantly towards our goal of highlighting the value of books and the value of reading. Our involvement in Africa's Top 100 Books competition and numerous other cultural events has been extremely rewarding. But, for the moment, the Festival itself will have to wait.

'The Board, Patrons, Members and Advisory Council are disappointed at this temporary set back but remain totally committed to the objectives of the Festival. The Publishers' Association of South Africa will announce the new strategy in due course.'

Festival Director Graeme Bloch vigorously disputed the Board's decision: 'I believe we have missed a golden opportunity to put books on the agenda as we celebrate 10 years of democracy. I hope we have not squandered the enormous goodwill shown. I think there is a great future for writing and for publishing in South Africa, as we tell our stories to ourselves and to the world. I dearly hope that the publishers find a role to contribute to this renewal and growth.'

For further information contact:
Stephen Johnson, c/o Random House (Pty) Ltd
P.O. Box 2263
Parklands 2121 South Africa.
Tel: +27 11 484 3538
Fax: +27 11 484 6180
Mobile: + 27 (0) 82 458 4587

posted 11/7/03

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