SO: To Speak is Southampton’s Festival of Words. It celebrates the city’s creativity and talent, heritage and people. It embraces all forms of Word art that underpin our culture – writing, storytelling, Spoken Word, comedy, theatre and performance, comics and word illustration, as well as song.

We also celebrate the rich patchwork of organisations, venues, and people – some with Arts Council NPO status, others with ‘offices’ in their front room – who organise events and bring artists to the city all year round. SO: To Speak is a wide partnership of collaborators who come together to make the festival.

SO: To Speak began in 2015 with limited resources and big ideas to become a bi-annual event in the city’s calendar. And here we are, back in 2017 with a 10 day event that boasts a stronger, wider partnership, support from Arts Council England, and a programme that includes national figures, a world premiere, and new commissions.

SO: To Speak is committed to supporting artists as best we can. Artists can’t live on ‘good experience’, ‘exposure’ and ‘it’ll look good on your CV’. Professionals need cash, developing artists need opportunities to perform and to learn, and we hope that SO: To Speak offers all of those.

In 2016, the opportunity arose through the Southampton Fringe to run a weekend of events, and perhaps the idea will stick. We are already planning a festival symposium and poetry weekend for the spring of 2018. But for a 10 day event, every two years is enough!

This year we are proud to announce SO: To Speak Festival’s Honorary Patrons:

Philip Hoare 

Les Buckingham

Ali Sparks

Claire Fuller 

Sue Mullan

Simon Rhodes