Third Scottish book festival ends sponsorship with Baillie Gifford after boycott threats

-Credit: (Image: Dumfries and Galloway Standard)
-Credit: (Image: Dumfries and Galloway Standard)

A third Scottish book festival has ended its partnership with sponsor Baillie Gifford following pressure from climate campaigners.

Wigtown Book Festival has been sponsored by the investment management firm for the last 14 years but has cut ties following similar announcements by the Edinburgh International Book Festival (EIBF) in May and the Borders Literary Festival in Melrose earlier this month.

The Cheltenham Literary Festival in England also recently cut its ties to the company.

The Wigtown Book Festival board said: “It is with regret that we announce that the partnership between Wigtown Book Festival and Baillie Gifford is to end.

“We wish to offer huge thanks for their stalwart support over 14 years, which has allowed us to sustain and grow the festival, and has provided economic, cultural and social benefits across our community.”

In a post on social media, the organisers said that, like other book festivals, the Wigtown Book Festival was hitting “hard times” and called on people to support it by becoming a “book town friend”.

The 2024 festival, in “Scotland’s National Book Town”, is set to run between September 27 and October 6.

The decision by EIBF followed pressure from climate campaigners critical of the firm’s investment in fossil fuels, with 50 authors also signing an open letter at last year’s festival threatening a boycott in 2024 unless Baillie Gifford divested of billions of investments, or the organisers found a new sponsor.

Last month, another group of writers said the campaign against the EIBF was “deeply retrograde” and signed an open letter saying they are concerned about its future.

Nick Thomas, a partner with Baillie Gifford, said previously: “We hold the activists squarely responsible for the inhibiting effect their action will have on funding for the arts in this country.

“Baillie Gifford is a long-term investor with high ethical standards and a complete focus on doing what is right by our clients.”

He added: “Only 2% of our clients’ money is invested in companies with some business related to fossil fuels.”

The firm declined to provide any further comment on Wednesday.

Don't miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond - Sign up to our daily newsletter here.