Hay Festival’s main sponsor Tata has pulled its funding from the event.
Tata, which owns Jaguar Land Rover and Tata Steel, declined to comment on why it pulled out of the festival, saying it had a great relationship with Hay. It is understood that the company gave more than £1m to the event in the last five years.
Following the announcement writer Arundhati Roy – an outspoken critic of Tata – has agreed to participate in the book festival.
Roy has criticised the influence that Tata has on the Indian economy.
In an article for The Guardian, she wrote:
“The Tatas, for example, run more than 100 companies in 80 countries. They are one of India’s oldest and largest private sector power companies. They own mines, gas fields, steel plants, telephone, cable TV and broadband networks, and run whole townships. They manufacture cars and trucks, own the Taj hotel chain, Jaguar, Land Rover, Daewoo, Tetley Tea, a publishing company, a chain of bookstores, a major brand of iodised salt and the cosmetics giant Lakme. Their advertising tagline could easily be “you can’t live without us”.
Hay Festival director Peter Florence has stressed the importance of the festival’s ‘broad range of sponsors’, and said he respects the views of Roy.
Tata has sponsored the event’s main area, which featured a Tata Tent. It also ran a series of events ‘Pioneering with Purpose’ that featured celebrities such as Bear Grylls, who appeared in Land Rover-branded clothing.
The debate around private sponsorship rages on. Man Group recently ended its sponsorship of the Booker Prize after criticism from authors. Author Sebastian Faulks called the hedge fund ‘the enemy’.
Man Group’s chief executive Luke Ellis however, stressed the importance of private funding as government funding dries up.