Helen Bagnall has been appointed UK Director of Programmes and Engagement at Hay Festival Global, a newly created role at the charity. 

Contributing to the charity’s creative strategy, the role will oversee programming and engagement for UK activities – including Festival editions, digital projects, and community and learning outreach – while connecting with the widest range of audiences and communities through creative development and delivery.

Helen joins Hay Festival Global after directing ALSO Festival, which she founded in 2014, alongside founding Salon London and Salon North. She has also curated events with Wilderness, Latitude, Blue Dot, Festival No 6, Lost Village, Colours of Ostrava, Standon Calling, Soho House Group, Groucho Club, National Theatre and Tate Britain.

Hay Festival, one of the world’s leading cultural charities, was founded in Hay-on-Wye, Wales in 1987. The charity provides audiences with dynamic platforms to come together to share ideas, different perspectives and provoke conversations to create a better world. 

Hay Festival Global CEO Julie Finch said: “As an international charity, we reach millions of people every year through our one-of-a-kind Festivals, forums, and digital platforms. Our programmes and engagement work are at the heart of this, offering audiences spaces to exchange ideas 365 days a year. We are delighted to welcome Helen Bagnall to the team at this time of growth and renewal.”

Helen Bagnall said: “Hay Festival Global is unique in its scope, scale, and ambition. Having admired the team’s work from afar for many years, I am honoured to join in this new role. Building impactful programmes for audiences is my passion and I look forward to working with the programme and engagement teams in this next chapter for the charity.” 

Helen joins an executive team at Hay Festival Global comprised of CEO Julie Finch, International Director Cristina Fuentes La Roche, Chief Operating Officer Adrian Lambert, Communications Director Christopher Bone, Sustainability Director Andy Fryers, and Acting Head of Finance Amanda Cartwright. 

The appointment follows news earlier in the year of the Hay Festival Global board welcoming seven new trustees, including farmer, ceramicist and film producer Corisande Albert; economist Nick Butler; arts leader and digital specialist Tony Followell; tech investor Suhair Khan; historian, writer and broadcaster David Olusoga; business leader Ed Shedd; and digital content specialist Shakia Stewart.

Over the past year, Hay Festival has delivered 12 editions in seven countries: Colombia, Peru, the USA, Mexico, Spain, Ukraine and the UK. A total of 1,111 individual events featured 2,018 artists with 315,395 tickets sold and 6.7million web views. Meanwhile, year-round education and outreach programmes reached 15,081 school pupils. 

The next Hay Festival edition takes place in Hay-on-Wye, 23 May – 2 June. Launching the best new fiction and non-fiction, while offering insights and debate around significant global issues, the programme sees writers, policy makers, pioneers and innovators take part from around the world, offering big thinking and bold ideas. 

The world’s greatest writers, thinkers and performers have taken to the Festival’s stages over the years, including Arthur Miller, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood, Arundhati Roy, Naomi Klein, Edward Said, Alice Walker, Hugh Masekela, Jimmy Carter, Seamus Heaney, Zadie Smith, Dua Lipa, Stormzy, Nadine Gordimer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Martin Amis, Sally Rooney, Judith Kerr, Malala, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Desmond Tutu, Jane Fonda, Benjamin Zephaniah, Judi Dench, Hillary Clinton, and Festival President Stephen Fry. 

So far this year, there has been Festival editions in Jericó, Medellín and Cartagena, Colombia; Panama City; and Seville, Spain. Closer to home, the Scribblers Tour took writers direct to schools across Wales in free events in February, while the first Hay Festival After Hours event took place in Cardiff last month.