Writing West Midlands evolved from the work of the Birmingham Book Festival, established in 1999. The organisation is now the literature development agency for the region. We achieved National Portfolio Organisation status from the Arts Council in 2012; an important step which confirmed our strategic role in building the sector’s diversity and resilience. The annual festival, recently renamed Birmingham Literature Festival, remains at the heart of our work and is now the biggest literature event in the region.
The 13,000 square kilometres that make up our region – from Ledbury to Lichfield, from Stoke to Sandwell – are home to 5.2 million people and a broad range of communities, many marginalised by location, education, race or class. We want all individuals and communities in the region to have equal access to good writing, and equal opportunities to create it. That’s why our approach is always holistic and long-term, and that’s why collaboration and partnership is so important to us.
Our work is as much behind-the-scenes as it is front-stage. We recognise that literature can be experienced collectively and publicly – for instance at festival events and in readers’ groups – but is most often experienced individually and privately. We also understand that while the thrill of good writing endures, fundamental changes are taking place in the way people get access to this writing. Part of our role is to help readers and writers navigate this new landscape.
We are very proud of the relationships we have built up in this region, but there is so much more work to be done to ensure that more people get to make and share great writing. This is what drives us on.
To achieve our goals we will:
Develop the skills and talents of creative writers in all genres and forms
Challenge and support the literature sector to develop the highest quality of creative writing
Increase and improve opportunities for creative writers to sustain their creative careers
Encourage participation and grow and inspire audiences for creative writing
Help children and young people engage with creative writing as audiences and participants, including through Arts Award
Promote the West Midlands as a region of sustainable creative writing excellence and engagement
Support other organisations in developing national (and international) opportunities for creative writing
Make Writing West Midlands into a robust organisation to enable it to contribute to the long-term development of creative writing