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Director's Report 2019

Introduction

Our theme for 2018/19 was that of ‘Building a Stronger Infrastructure’. Our aim is to re-establish NAWE’s place in the national, long term conversation, meet the needs of our freelance and project-based writers as well as those who teach in universities and schools, advocating for the subject while renewing bonds with partner organisations across the country.

NAWE Conference

Our 2018 Conference welcomed 150 delegates from Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Spain, the US and the UK for 3 days of networking, fellowship and exchange. We were delighted to be joined by Stuart Maconie and Jean Sprackland as our guest speakers, and our thanks go to them as well as to Michael Loveday, Keith Jarrett, Jennifer Steil, Karen Stevens, Jonathan Taylor, Caleb Parkin and Meryl Pugh, who all read or launched new publications.

Programmes: Max Reinhardt Literacy Awards

In 2018/19, the website for MaxLiteracy, https://www.maxliteracy.org/ was launched with funders and partners the Max Reinhardt Charitable Trust and Engage (the National Association for Gallery Education), with kind help from the Ernest Cook Trust. This website includes a stunning selection of resources for anyone interested in teaching creative writing through art, as well as learning and evaluation from each of the projects, some demonstrating a massive impact on children’s literacy through creative writing.

Paper Nations

In 2018/19 our formal work with Paper Nations - a three-year, Arts Council- funded research programme led by partners Bath Spa University, Bath Festivals and NAWE - came to a close. Our 2018 conference saw the publication of a new benchmark in creative writing for young people and emerging writers in a special bumper edition of the NAWE magazine. We were pleased to celebrate Creative Writing in Schools, presenting a special selection of panels, papers, workshops and readings threaded through the conference.

One incredibly valuable output from this project was the Independent Evaluation by LKMCO. It demonstrated, among other things, the importance of networks for creative writers, a finding that is influencing our future plans for members. We hope that learning and resources from this project will provide you with information, support and strength as you continue to build your careers and change lives through the work you do.

Higher Education

Our Higher Education Committee continued to meet regularly in 2018/19. Derek Neale was Chair of the committee and Principal Editor of our online, peer-reviewed journal, Writing in Practice, while Celia Brayfield continued as Vice Chair. We would like to thank Derek & Celia for their leadership: under their watch, the committee revised the NAWE Research Benchmark; nominated panels for the REF 2021; participated in the AWP and English: Shared Futures conferences; supported the NAWE PhD Network; produced guidance documents on Open Access (with the British Library), and Casual Contracts (with Society of Authors); and ran a series of helpful, practice based events for lecturers and PhD students with the Open University.

In addition, the committee set up a directory of external examiners for undergraduate, MA and PhD vivas, available to NAWE members through our website. They were also involved in consultations with AHRC, QAA, and HESA (altering the JACS codes for the subject area of CW), and liaised with PRAG UK. The committee formed the editorial board of Writing in Practice and many members were issue editors during the three years, some more than once. Contact was maintained with sister associations – EACWP, AWP and AAWP. We would like to thank all members of the committee for their hard work and dedication to NAWE.

International Creative Writing Partners

We believe it is important for NAWE to be outward looking. In 2018/19, we continued to strengthen relationships with international and European counterparts, attending EACWP seminars in Brussels in September 2018 and raising awareness of UK-based creative writing programmes, research and practice. We’re delighted to see so many international colleagues at this year’s conference.

NAWE representatives attended the Association of Writers and Writing Programmes Conference in Oregon in March 2019, promoting UK institutions and courses in creative writing through the NAWE booklet. We spoke to current and prospective students, educators and lecturers; writers interested in competitions and online courses; arts professionals, networks and alliances; publishers, marketing executives, journalists, editors, trustees and CEOs.

What we’re doing in 2019/20: More direct activities to serve our members

While we have made great strides in some directions, progress in other areas has been slower than we’d hoped. Resources continue to be a factor, with many of our staff working over and above their contracted hours.

In 2019/20 we will review our mission, vision and values to ensure they are fit for purpose, and conduct a review of Writing in Education to ensure it meets members’ needs. We will continue planning the next phase of NAWE’s development, looking at matters of greatest value such as new ways of serving our members, working to ensure the organisation’s financial health, renewing governance and the constitution.

We know that not all members can come to the conference, so we are setting up Regional Networking events in different parts of the country: Leeds, Cornwall, Norwich, Bath, and London working with regional partners. We are looking forward to planning our 2020 Conference in Bristol, and are in talks with local stakeholders about the possibility of joint events.

We hope to make progress on our university roadshows, submit our long-planned ACE application, and to carry out more external facing work to support our members and the creative writing community. We’ll carry on delivering projects with partner organisations that will be of lasting benefit to the discipline: disseminating the outcomes of the Paper Nations project and the draft benchmark, proceeding with the fourth iteration of the Max Literacy Award, and engaging with the REF 2021.

We will continue working on rebuilding relationships with Arts Council England, regional development agencies, and other stakeholders: Arvon, First Story, First Story, CLPE, the National Literacy Trust, the National Centre for Writing, and all of our regional partners.

My thanks to all our members, colleagues and our two committees for your continued support and hard work. We are digging deep, and planning for an exciting future. 

Seraphima Kennedy, Director of NAWE, November 2019