February 2023



February 2023

3rd Conference of Festival Directors

GAoLF Conference 2023

This 3rd conference of GAoLF between 1st and 3rd of Feb 2023, hosted by Emirates Airlines Festival of Directors in Dubai. A gathering of professionals from around the world who are passionate about promoting literature and arts. The conference is an opportunity for festival directors to exchange ideas, share best practices, and discuss emerging trends in the literary festival industry. Participants will have the chance to attend talks, workshops, and networking events.


Carmel Rosato

Emirates Airlines Literature Festival

Isobel Abulhoul

Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature

Kenanao Phele

Gaborone Book Festival

Nermin Mollaoglu

İstanbul International Literature Festival

Rosemarie Milsom

Newcastle Writers Festival

Lyndsey Fineran

Cheltenham Literature Festival

Nora Hadjisotiriou

International Literary Festival, to the sea-girt shores of Cyprus And International Festival for Young Poets

Nick Barley

Edinburgh International Book Festival

Edinburgh International Book Festival

Lola Shoneyin

Ake Arts & Book Festival

Syima Aslam

Bradford Literature Festival

Maureen Tai

Hong Kong International Literary Festival

Jean-Claude Cournand

Bocas Literature Festival

Daniela Ini

Filba Internacional Buenos Aires

Haley Borgrud

Wisconsin Book Festival

Leslie Hurtig

The Vancouver Writers Festival

Gene Smith

Ubud Writers and Readers Festival

Lily Gonzalez

San Antonio Book Festival

Razi Ahmed

Lahore Literary Festival

Srikrishna Ramamoorthy

Bangalore Literature Festival

Olubunmi Aboderin Talabi

Akada Children’s Book Festival


Wednesday, 01 February

Music from Arqam -Emirati soul singer

Discussion concerning GAoLF membership and if in agreement, ratification of


Led by Carmel Rosato, Emirates Airline Festival of Literature and Lola

Shoneyin, Ake Arts and Book Festival

Looking to the future Post-pandemic we have seen audiences return, but perhaps not in the numbers we saw previously. Is this a post-pandemic hangover, or a sign of the changing profile of audiences and their expectations? What impact will the financial climate have on those relying on ticket sales? What has been the impact of streaming services – do people prefer to stream their entertainment into their homes rather than go out? What about sustainability issues– can it be a festival if its only online?

Lyndsey Fineran, The Times & Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival;

Daniela Ini, Filba International Buenos Aires,

Jean-Claude Cournand, Bocas Literature festival

The Festival’s signature event, Desert Stanzas transports poets from around the world to perform amongst the sand dunes, under a starlit sky.

Thursday, 02 February

Literature’s place in including ‘others’, breaking down stereotypes and building bridges across communities.

Syima Aslan on Bradford Literature Festival’s diversity project;

Razi Ahmed, Lahore Literary Festival

As the Culture Wars rage on, fiction has become a flashpoint in the debate.

Is the right to have freedom of expression having the opposite effect, resulting in the suppression of imagination? And how does cultural convention play a part in the debate? Should festivals be a place of neutrality for differing points of view?

Lily Gonzalez, San Antonio Book Festival;

Leslie Hurtig, The Vancouver Writers Festival

Isobel Abulhoul Emirates Airline Festival of Literature;

Rose-Marie Milsom, Newcastle Writers Festival;

Jean-Claude Cournand, Bocas Literature Festival

Friday, 03 February

Head of Business Marketing at TikTok MENA Annie Arsane Mattar will delve into the world of #BookTok and what this channel means to the publishing industry.

Kenanano Phele, Gabarone Book Festival, Botswana;

Nermin Mollaoğlu Demirtaş, ITEF Istanbul International Literature Festival

Nick Barley, Edinburgh International Book Festival;

Isobel Abulhoul, Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

Publishing day  conversation chaired by award-winning author Kit de Waal, author of My Name is Leon and editor of working-class memoir Common People.