Diversity in Dublin Book Festival Programming

There’s still a long way to go…

Dublin Book Festival celebrated a banner year for diversity figures in its programming. And, while we’re not there yet, there is a definite trend emerging in the last three years that we are on the right track. 

25{81d1184065c7f9cfaf23e8b3f52f53664bbbabdb8ac3ae7b4d9dfca466b9b382} of the 2021 Dublin Book Festival programme of events showcased or included artists from diverse backgrounds. This was a growth of 6{81d1184065c7f9cfaf23e8b3f52f53664bbbabdb8ac3ae7b4d9dfca466b9b382} against 2020 figures and almost 20{81d1184065c7f9cfaf23e8b3f52f53664bbbabdb8ac3ae7b4d9dfca466b9b382} up on 2019 programming. Events such as Play It Forward, run with Skein Press and The Stinging Fly and Day of the Imprisoned Writer in partnership with Irish PEN were notable for their range of culturally diverse talent. 

Gender balance is an area we also take seriously. Having recorded quite female heavy line ups in the past (63{81d1184065c7f9cfaf23e8b3f52f53664bbbabdb8ac3ae7b4d9dfca466b9b382} Female to 37{81d1184065c7f9cfaf23e8b3f52f53664bbbabdb8ac3ae7b4d9dfca466b9b382} Male in 2020), we were delighted to record 40{81d1184065c7f9cfaf23e8b3f52f53664bbbabdb8ac3ae7b4d9dfca466b9b382} Male, 52{81d1184065c7f9cfaf23e8b3f52f53664bbbabdb8ac3ae7b4d9dfca466b9b382} Female, 6{81d1184065c7f9cfaf23e8b3f52f53664bbbabdb8ac3ae7b4d9dfca466b9b382} Trans and 2{81d1184065c7f9cfaf23e8b3f52f53664bbbabdb8ac3ae7b4d9dfca466b9b382} Non-Binary in 2021. DBF2021 also saw the first ever all-Trans panel at an Irish Literary or Book Festival with “Your Favourite Irish Trans Writer”, presented by writer James Hudson. This was a fun but important event. 

Our GSD (Gender Sexual Diversity) numbers are something we will continue to work on but seem to be on the right curve. In 2020 13{81d1184065c7f9cfaf23e8b3f52f53664bbbabdb8ac3ae7b4d9dfca466b9b382} of our line up was LGBTQI+, in 2021 it was 28{81d1184065c7f9cfaf23e8b3f52f53664bbbabdb8ac3ae7b4d9dfca466b9b382}*. 

Representation across race and ethnicity breakdown also revealed that things are going in the right direction but there is most definitely a need for more inclusivity of non-white artists across the Festival and publishing world. 77{81d1184065c7f9cfaf23e8b3f52f53664bbbabdb8ac3ae7b4d9dfca466b9b382} of our featured artists were white, 21{81d1184065c7f9cfaf23e8b3f52f53664bbbabdb8ac3ae7b4d9dfca466b9b382} non-white and 2{81d1184065c7f9cfaf23e8b3f52f53664bbbabdb8ac3ae7b4d9dfca466b9b382} Irish Traveller. These figures are encouraging when compared to previous years – 88{81d1184065c7f9cfaf23e8b3f52f53664bbbabdb8ac3ae7b4d9dfca466b9b382} white in 2019 and 90{81d1184065c7f9cfaf23e8b3f52f53664bbbabdb8ac3ae7b4d9dfca466b9b382} in 2020. 

The social, cultural and economic benefits of diversity in festival programming far outweigh any challenges. Festival appearances can be game changing for artists and authors, giving them a platform previously unavailable and an audience space they can feel safe in to promote their work. Though we realise we still have a long way to go for the perfect line up, diversity is something that will continue to be at the forefront of our minds when we are programming Dublin Book Festival 2022. 

*Calculation Considerations
The analysis of our lineups for diversity includes some approximations. Given people can be of more than one race or ethnicity, our analysis counted multi-racial or multi-ethnic artists as part of a minority group.
Furthermore, given sexuality and gender identity is a highly personal matter, this analysis only includes those artists who are openly out about their non-heterosexuality and/or non-cishet gender identities. Thus, the number of LGBTQI+ artists may not be completely inclusive of all LGBTQI+ artists on the programme.