Words Ireland hosted a series of nationwide public meetings for professional and practising writers in 2016/17 to hear how writers sustain their careers. After listening to these discussions and reviewing all of the feedback, as well as continuing discussions with our partners at the Arts Council, we’ve responded to writers needs with the following programmes:
Words Ireland National Mentoring Programme
In 2018, we initiated 20 mentoring opportunities between professional writers and emerging writers. This creating 20 paid teaching opportunities for experienced, professional writers. It also gave opportunities to 20 emerging/emerged writers to develop their craft and to complete a new body of work under the guidance of an experienced mentor. We partnered with 12 local arts authorities and libraries to maximize the number of opportunities and funding available for this programme. Thanks to the arts offices of Carlow, Clare, Galway, Fingal, Kildare, Leitrim, Limerick, Kilkenny, Mayo, South Dublin, Wexford, and the library service and arts office of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown. More info here.
Advocacy for the Literature Sector
In 2019, we began working on information campaign directed at senior members in goverment and other arts funding bodies with the aim of highlighting the value of Irish writers and the literature sector. This culminated in a presentation at Leinster House, led by Words Ireland and writers Anne Enright and Paul Murray. Let Us Tell You a Story, was circulated to all members of Leinster House and the Seanad, received national media publicity, and led to meetings with senior ministers.
Professional Development & Networking Events
In 2019, we’ll partner with ILFDublin to deliver a one-day professional development and information day for anyone who organizes literature events, be they writers, festival directors, venue managers, literature organisations, publishers or journal editors. More on this soon.
In 2020, we’ll planned to return with our biennial writers conference, however, COVID-19 disrupted our plans. Instead, we’re moving online with the Words Ireland Lecture Series in October and November 2020. To see what happened at our conference in 2018, click here.
Literature Audience Development
Words Ireland is currently working with arts venues and arts services to increase literature programming and put on more quality and ambitious events across Ireland.
Participating venues have included:
- The Backstage, Longford
- The Linenhall, Mayo
- The Dock, Leitrim
- Droichead Arts Centre, Louth
- Riverbank Arts Centre, Kildare
- Fingal Arts Service
- The Source Arts Centre, Tipperary
- Roscommon Arts Centre, Roscommon
After a successful pilot scheme in 2017–2018, our Literature Audience Development Officer, Dani Gill, is advising six venues nationally on literature programming, and developing new audiences for literature. This is done through outreach to libraries, bookshops, schools, writing groups, and book clubs in regions surrounding each venue.
From initial feedback, it’s clear that Arts Offices, venue managers, literature and arts festival directors are keen to engage with writers and producers who can provide feasible, audience-focused literature events and initiatives. In 2020 the venues on the scheme came together to form the LIVE Network , a Network who are committed to touring literature events and supporting literary producers in the showcasing of new work. The Network is also open to hosting writing residencies and creative writing workshops for writers.
Therefore, our aim is to:
- Bring more literature events and programming to regional arts centres and theatres.
- Grow regional audiences for literature and literary offerings.
- Increase venue managers’ and directors’ interest in and understanding of literature event productions and initiatives
- See more literature producers/writers apply for Arts Council Touring and Project grants
- Share our learning and knowledge with the wider literature community through professional development documents and events, and to support the ambitions of anyone with quality ideas for producing or touring word-based events.
In achieving these aims, we hope to create relevant, paying career opportunities for writers and develop new audiences for their work.