Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy has financially supported the London Writers Network through our networks funding programme. Laura Kenwright, Communications and Project Manager at Spread the Word, writes about the Network's inaugural meeting held in June 2016.
With generous support from Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy, Spread the Word informally launched our new membership scheme, the London Writers Network, with a panel event and networking session that explored funding and career development opportunities for writers.
Representatives from seven regional and national literature and writer development organisations joined our panel to talk to a room filled with writers eager to hear what opportunities might exist for them to develop their career, seek financial support for their work and make new contacts/ connections. After hearing from funders, three writers, each with their own experience of successful fundraising and project work, shared some of their own personal insight.
The panels were followed by a friendly networking session that provided audience members with the opportunity to speak to presenters individually – by the end of the afternoon there were a number of project ideas being cooked up, with vital connections made.
It is rare that a group is able to come together in one room to share resources and information about all that they do to support writers. Appreciation for the opportunity to connect with such a range of organisations echoed throughout the room throughout this lively and vibrant event.
Key learning points:
- Organisations were keen to extend their networks and ‘spread the word’ (we will never tire of that…). This collaborative and sharing approach is what makes the literature and arts sector successful and robust; it was great to see it in action.
- Simon Mole (poet and performer) signposted the audience to an article he wrote for Spread the Word’s website ‘Three Things to Think About Before Working With Organisations and Venues’.
- From a professional development point of view we learned nuances about the funding landscape for writers that we didn’t know previously – this will contribute greatly to us supporting writers and our own partnerships with organisations. For example, the Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowships enable forward-thinking international collaboration, enabling applicants to investigate inspiring practice abroad and return with innovative ideas to benefit people across the UK. In addition, as a team we are now more familiar than we were previously with the extensive prizes managed by the Society of Authors. We will be able to pass on this knowledge to our networks of writers in a variety of ways, either in professional development 1-2-1s, or via communications around support for careers in our new London Writers Network. For writers, funding and prize-money is a sought-after necessity for a flourishing writing career and as a team, it is important for us to continue to refresh our knowledge of changing and innovative funding opportunities and landscapes.
There’s a Storify of the event containing lots of useful tips and contact information from the day: http://spreadtheword.org.uk/resources/view/london-writers-network
And just a bit of ‘could be useful for pub quizzes’ knowledge from the day: Julia from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust told a surprised room that Winston Churchill won a Nobel Prize for Literature!
We look forward to formally launching the London Writers Network this Autumn, that will connect writers across London with each other, with organisations, and with opportunities to expand their professional development in a scheme that supports writers in London to enjoy sustained and creative careers.
If you’d like to be kept up to date with the work of Spread the Word, London’s literature development agency, sign up for our newsletter here.