As the end of the decade approaches and we roll into the 2020s, we’re looking back at a big year of development for New Writing South. There’s a great deal of new writing to be proud of, and so many writers to be excited by. Ten of our highlights are beneath!
1. Writers’ Days
With our new team firmly in place, we launched our Spring/Summer 2019 programme with a sold-out New Writing South Writers’ Day at the end of March at The Writers’ Place.
The day included discussions, information and networking opportunities designed to offer professional advice for writers, from working with publishers, promoting yourself and your work and learning how to generate income from writing.
Look out for our next big Writers’ Day in Brighton in Spring 2020 and our mini-Writers’ Days across the region at a festival near you. You can also find out more about our other writers’ services, from mentoring to script reads on our website.
2. The Coast is Queer
In August we launched our flagship queer literary festival in Brighton. Attended by more than 1000 people, with 40 writers over four days, the festival was an unprecedented success with more highlights than we can contain here. BN1 called it ‘a thing of absolute beauty. A momentous moment indeed.’
We’re excited to say that we’ll be back in October 2020. In the meantime, relive the excitement with the video beneath!
3. Working Class Writers’ Collective
Following the success of the Common People anthology – and the associated development project supported by New Writing South and other excellent partners – we were keen to continue this important work.
As a result, in autumn we launched the Working Class Writers’ Collective by open call. We were blown away by the response – this is without a doubt something people want and need.
We had a full house for our first meeting in November at The Writers’ Place, and already there are exciting plans afoot.
Watch this space, and get in touch if you want to get involved.
4. Spotlight Books
We’re lucky indeed to share our vibrant hometown of Brighton with an incredible creative community, including fantastic publishers Myriad Editions and excellent partners Creative Future. The result of our collaboration this year is Spotlight Books.
After a rigorous selection process, a period of mentoring and editorial support we’re pleased to see these six magnificent miniatures out in the world. Find out more on Myriad Editions’ website.
5. Celebrating our Stories
Celebrating Our Stories celebrates the lives of older LGBTQ+ people in southeast England, with support from Arts Council England and Baring Foundation’s Celebrating Age initiative.
Throughout 2019 artistic director Dinos Aristidou and project manager Lee Smith have worked with dozens of participants to gather and share joyful, queer stories from across the region. We’re proud to announce Celebrating our Stories: Hear us Out, a verbatim theatre festival that will take place across the South East in the year ahead.
Want to get involved? We’re on the look-out for LGBTQ+ writers, readers and performers. No experience is necessary. Find out more on our website.
6. International Writer in Residence, Isabel Morska
In October we welcomed Polish novelist, poet, academic and LGBT activist Izabela Morska to Brighton thanks to support from the British Council. Splitting her time between Brighton and West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, Izabela Morska met local writers, gave readings and presentations, and worked on her next book.
Watch our video to hear about her work, and to hear her reading her poem ‘Madame Intuita’.
7. New Writing South Best Play Award
This year we again faced the near impossible task of selecting the shortlist for the Best New Play Award. After much deliberation, we whittled the entries down to 11 for the longlist, and picked our top three for the shortlist.
The Award of £250 was presented to Sam Chittenden for her play ‘Clean’ performed by Different Theatre Company. ‘Clean’ tells the story of six women in the Laundry Hill area of Brighton, spanning a century and a half from 1870 to the present.
We’ll be running the Best New Play Award again in 2020 with the Brighton Fringe.
Submissions open on 3 February! Find out more on our website.
8. Theatre Royal Brighton Young Playwrights
This year playwright Sara Clifford led the Theatre Royal Brighton Young Playwrights programme, developing exciting new theatre work, with a dedicated group of young playwrights age 16-25. The result was a promenade performance in the hidden spaces of the historic Theatre Royal with a group of professional actors. We’re excited to see where these talented writers go next!
Submissions are currently open for 2020 and the course begins on 25 January. Find out more about Theatre Royal Brighton Young Playwrights.
9. HANGLETON & KNOLL – TELLING OUR STORIES
2019 saw us working in the Hangleton community with the wonderful women from the Hangleton & Knoll Multicultural Women’s Group (H&KMWG). Together our project was called Telling Our Stories, and created a platform for sharing the group’s rich, diverse and often very poignant stories.
Programme Manager, Sharon Duggal, who is also an author, led the project, working with the women over five weeks in the Autumn to help them explore different ways to share and tell their stories.
Thanks to the support of the charity RiseUK and Alison MacLeod’s The Stories We Tell initiative, the work we’ve started with the group will continue into 2020.
10. THANK YOU – OUR WRITING COMMUNITY!
Last but not least we want to celebrate you: our vibrant writing community, and raise a toast to all the dazzling writers, excellent readers and literary partners that we’ve worked with in 2019.
Thanks and warm wishes go to the writers we’ve been fortunate enough to work with and alongside in the last twelve months – from those trying creative writing for the first time, to emerging or more established writers. We count more than 2,000 attendees to all our combined events in 2019 – and 800+ participants at workshops and programmes, using writers’ services, or joining us for public events.
We also thank our friends in the region and the UK: Creative Future, Myriad Editions, City Reads, British Council Literature, City Books, The Spire, RISE, The Creative Writing Programme, Hangleton & Knoll Multicultural Women’s Group, Marlborough Productions, Brighton and Hove Libraries, LGBTQ+ History Club, Brighton Festival, Brighton Fringe, Shoreham Wordfest and Brighton Museum, Theatre Royal Brighton, West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, and more!
If you’re reading this and would like to work with us in 2020, please do get in touch.
New Writing South aims to work as expansively as possible – providing a platform for marginalised writers, and amplifying the voices of writers in the southeast – we want to hear from you.