NEWBURYPORT — After canceling the live events because of the coronavirus pandemic, organizers of the 15th annual Newburyport Literary Festival plan to take the festivities online.
The annual festival, scheduled for April 24-25, was expected to draw 3,000 to 4,000 people and feature about 70 authors from around the country. It was canceled in March for the first time since its 2005 debut to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
But now, Jennifer Entwistle, who co-organizes the festival with Vicki Hendrickson, said an “abridged” version will be held through an online platform April 25.
The details are still up in the air, but Entwistle said the online festival will feature a subset of the fiction and nonfiction authors who were originally scheduled to appear at the festival, each of whom will broadcast live from their homes.
While the online version won’t be as extensive as the original, Entwistle said it will be a good compromise that puts everyone’s safety first.
“We have limited space, but our goal has always been to promote reading to promote reading, and to get authors and readers connected. If we can do that online, then we’re still achieving our goal, so it’s exciting to work on this,” Entwistle said.
She said the festival will be promoted through A Mighty Blaze, a social media initiative created by authors Jenna Blum and Caroline Leavitt to help promote other authors’ new books during the COVID-19 shutdowns. With their help, Entwistle said she hopes the online festival has the potential to reach an even wider audience across the country.
“There’s a big learning curve with a lot of people discovering the online meeting technology, so we’re learning along with everyone else right now how to do this online,” Entwistle said. “This way, everyone will be logging in from their own home, so they’ll be safe and healthy.”
Entwistle said registration for the festival will be free and that a schedule will hopefully be available on the festival’s website and Facebook page next week.
For more information on the festival, see https://newburyportliteraryfestival.org/.
For more information on A Mighty Blaze, see https://www.amightyblaze.com/?fbclid=IwAR0K_DRx-D76bFOHhg4vEPNOf_cclIVCB2SWbNj9JVn0kUictjIFnrQjuQc.