The only surprise with the announcement that the Hay Festival in the UK has been cancelled is that it didn’t come sooner.

A curt statement on the official website says:

We deeply regret that Hay Festival 2020 is cancelled due to the Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic. Ticket refunds are available. All ticket holders are being contacted.

We are heartbroken that our gathering of writers and readers and friends will not take place this spring. As we all face these times of uncertainty and isolation we will work harder than ever to carry forward our spirit of togetherness.

Our not-for-profit organisation now faces a devastating reality. We have 10 days to raise emergency funds to support us as we plot a sustainable route to secure Hay Festival 2021, when we can again celebrate together and tell stories.

All credit to Hay for making every effort to ensure no-one is left out of pocket. But the “devastating new reality” was entirely predictable and action could and should have been taken sooner.

The Hay Festival has set up a GoFundMe donations pledge page here, aiming to raise £150,000. As this post goes live just under £10,000 has been pledged.

Meanwhile Book Expo America is keeping its head low and standing by its most recent statement of March 15 that the show will go on.

It seems that while Hay belatedly is coming to terms with the “devastating new reality”, BEA is still living in a parallel universe of its own choosing where New York is not shuttered and the coronavirus is not happening.

Just how much longer can Book Expo America and its organisers Reed Exhibitions keep up this pretence?

BEA, it’s time to do the right thing.