Writing West Midlands

This year’s Cultural Internships have certainly flown by. Matthew Smith here reflects on his time with Writing West Midlands…

Since October I’ve been working with Writing West Midlands, the literary development and delivery agency for the region, as well as working with writers they also programme and run the Birmingham Literature Festival. The last 6 months have flown by, it seems only yesterday I was starting my internship helping out with the Birmingham Literature Festival. As the philosopher Ferris Bueller says “life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while you could miss it.” So with that in mind, I’ve chosen some highlights from my time at Writing West Midlands.

The work I have done whilst on my internship can be broken up into 4 categories, Learning and Participation, Marketing and Communications, Programming and Talent Development, these aren’t finite roles or boxes and one can easily merge into the other, and often you can be doing all 4 at the same time.

The first project I led on was In Conversation with Ulrich Peltzer, Ulrich is an acclaimed author in his native Germany but not so well known in the UK, I was in charge of organising the event this meant everything from booking the venue and communicating with the publisher to obtain copies of the book, marketing and making an e-flyer for the event. These type of events always throw up challenges, but it was great to take the reins on a micro project like this and the final event was a success.

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In Conversation with Ulrich Peltzer

My next challenge was tackling the many headed Hydra that is the Grants for the Arts application process. I began working with children’s author Ian Billings, on his That’s Your Story Audio 2017 project which takes seed ideas from school children and then develops the work into radio plays. Ian wanted to apply for Grant for the Arts funding, and I worked closely with him completing the application form, this involved a huge amount of project planning, research and battling the demonic forces of Microsoft Excel. This was a great experience as I got to get to grips and have first-hand experience of applying for funding from the Arts Council.

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Ian Billings source http://www.ianbillings.com/gallery

Writing West Midlands runs the largest young writers programme in the country, providing over 6000 hours of workshops in creative writing. I helped at several different groups across Birmingham assisting the workshop leaders. Helping young people make comic books and write their own radio plays.

A large part of Writing West Midlands work is about talent development, which comes in many forms – from individual writers phoning the office for advice or a one to one session with Jonathan the Chief Executive. The Room 204 writer development programme is an on-going scheme to help develop professional writers in the region – applications for this year’s cohort opened in February. I was in charge of the admin for the project and we were inundated with applications and reached a record number of applicants. Because the first reading of the work is anonymous I had to develop an application system so writers’ details were not lost.

This year the Birmingham Literature Festival will be 20 years young and to celebrate along with the usual October festival there will also be a special Spring Edition at the end of April. I worked closely with Abigail the programmer scouting out new venues for the festival. As I write this we are in the middle of preparing for the Spring Edition, I’m helping with social media marketing, updating the website as we announce this year’s line-up, writing copy and proof reading the Festival programme before it goes to print. The Festival looks fantastic with some incredibly interesting guests and events. I won’t be working for Writing West Midlands when the Spring Edition happens, so I’ll just have to attend as a punter.

I’ve had a fantastic time working at Writing West Midlands across the organisation, they are a friendly and supportive team. I’ll miss working with them, but I’ve also got new adventures on the Horizon, as I walk off into the cultural internship sunset.

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