Bloomsbury Festival was created in 2006 to mark the re-opening of the Brunswick Centre. Its owner, Allied London, commissioned local resident and cultural programmer Roma Backhouse to lead a celebration of the local area. It was a huge success, bringing together over 50 local partners, and Allied London repeated their support of the Festival in 2007.
They sold the Brunswick in 2008, and so the Festival’s funding disappeared. Roma Backhouse and Festival Producer Maddy Jones took the Festival under the wing of their company Hidden Cities, and spent two years re-establishing it with a new set of partners from across the broader Bloomsbury area, including a generous anonymous donor without whom the Festival would not be here today. In 2010, the Festival was re-born and tens of thousands of people filled Bloomsbury’s streets, parks, galleries, libraries and museums to enjoy a colourful celebration of the area.
Bloomsbury Festival continued to grow, both in visitor numbers and in reputation, quickly becoming one of London’s best-loved weekend Festivals. 2012 saw further change when Roma left to become a Clore Fellow. Cathy Mager became the Director, and the Festival registered as a charitable Trust, recruiting a new Chair and additional Trustees. The 2013 festival was a great success. It expanded to 5 days and included over 200 events, attracting over 55,000 people.
In 2014 there was a period of organisational development and business planning to boost the sustainability of the Festival for the future in an increasingly challenging environment for public funding. In January 2015 the Board appointed a new Director, Kate Anderson, who will lead the organisation moving forwards.
The Charity is governed by a board of Trustees from the local business, cultural and academic communities.