A writer’s guide to the North East
There are around 400 active professional writers working in the region who earn their living from publishing fiction and poetry, and from their produced work in the fields of theatre, TV, film and radio.
In the North East, writing is both an art and a business and New Writing North supports writers to develop the business of their work as well as the creativity of their art via successful partnerships with Business Link and through other structural programmes to support both business start-ups and development.
Writers living in the North East exist in an regional economic climate as well as a national and international one. The businesses of book publishing and TV and film production still primarily take place outside the region – demanding that writers living and working in the region develop strong and innovative ways to communicate with those who might produce their work. Engaging writers with the industry and national opportunities has always been a key task for New Writing North and one that the organisation meets successfully.
The region is home to two book festivals in Hexham and Durham, which promote regional writers alongside visits from writers from across the UK. For writers interested in live literature, Apples and Snakes hosts a regional post at ARC in Stockton-on-Tees. The regional co-ordinator sets up events and develops opportunities for writers in this specific area of work.
Newcastle’s Live Theatre is an internationally noted producer of new writing for the stage as is Northern Stage. In the field of film and television, the region is home to script development projects such as The Story Engine and the Northern Lights Film Festival and to the regional screen agency, Northern Film & Media.
The region is also to home to a cluster of interesting and important literary-based arts organisations including:
* Seven Stories, the centre for children’s books, the home of year-round exhibitions and an enviable archive of children’s writing and illustrations.
* Bloodaxe Books, the largest independent publisher of poetry in the UK and one of the best regarded publishers in the world. Bloodaxe is well known for its very successful anthology of poetry, Staying Alive, and for the more recent collection of new UK poetry, Identity Parade.
* Inpress Books, the sales and marketing agency for independent publishers in the UK and Ireland, which supports over 40 publishers from its Newcastle base.
* The Northern Poetry Library is kept at Morpeth Library and is the largest collection of contemporary poetry in England outside London. It currently contains around 15,000 books, with new ones being added all the time.
* The Literary & Philosophical Society of Newcastle upon Tyne (the Lit & Phil) is the largest independent library outside London, housing over 150,000 books. A wide selection of current fiction and non-fiction can be found alongside historical collections covering every field of interest. The Lit & Phil is one of the most beautiful buildings in Newcastle and the library is a delight to explore. The Lit & Phil also run regular events and activities that are open to non-members.
* Writers’ Block is a new project for writers and creatives based under the BBC Tees offices in Middlesbrough and provides work space and facilities. Visit www.writersblockne.com for further information, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The region has seen much investment recently in the physical infrastructure of libraries, though at the same time has seen a reduction in the number of staff dedicated to reading development overall.
Although a healthy home for literature and writing organisations, the region also has some challenges when it comes to reading and writing. National figures show that many fewer people read for pleasure in the North East than in many other areas of the country; book buying per head of population is low; and the level of people’s participation in cultural events is one of the lowest in the country. All the organisations above are working hard to try to change this for the better.
If you want to keep informed about writing activity and opportunities in the region we would suggest that you consider doing the following:
* Subscribe to the RSS updates on this website for events, opportunities and news.
* Follow literature organisations on Twitter – start at http://twitter.com/newwritingnorth and see who we’re following.
* You can also join many organisations on Facebook, including New Writing North – www.facebook.com/newwritingnorth?ref=ts.