There are sponsorships that are made in heaven and the Guardian’s long running partnership with the Hay Festival was one of them. Very quietly last October the Guardian swept out of Hay and the Telegraph was ushered in with a three year deal to attach their name to the now growing list of Festivals that have emerged from the small Brecon town and are encircling the globe in celebration of the arts.
So if the Festival couldn’t go to Segovia or Zacatecas without keeping the name Hay in the event title, can it remain true to itself with the Guardian moniker making way for the Telegraph?
Whilst the subject matter for the annual fest has emerged from the printed page and grown to encompass the performing arts there has always been a powerful political undercurrent during those 10 days in May. In 2008 John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the UN and advisor to George Bush narrowly escaped an attempted citizen’s arrest for war crimes by writer and activist George Monbiot. Last year the 2010 festival goers held their collective breath as they awaited news of the best-selling Swedish author Henning Mankell who instead of being at the festival was on board a the convoy of Gaza-bound boats stormed by Israeli forces. The festival’s biggest draws have invariably been from the centre left, Vince Cable, Gore and Clinton, journalist John Pilger. Miliband is a regular but I don’ think Cameron has ever been.
For a decade the only daily paper on sale at the site has been the Guardian and I’ve never heard a single complaint. You couldn’t cite a more certain collection of Guardian readers than at Hay in May. Will it change? It’s difficult to see how it can be avoided.