After a disastrous 2016, and a gradual re-entry to the world of work, I’m now properly back at the Studio. I’d like to thank you all again for your support last year. It meant a great deal to me to know you were all thinking of me and to know I was missed. And thank you to those of you who I’ve seen for welcoming me back with such warmth. I missed you all too, and I’m very glad to be back, not to mention proud to be a member of this wonderful community we’ve built.
Changes at the Studio
You’ll have noticed some changes over the last year, partly triggered by my disappearance…
Deborah Bailey has put a great deal of (unpaid) work into ensuring NWS is no longer so dependent on one person, and establishing a management team which will carry on the work essential to running the Studio. We all owe her our gratitude for stepping up to the mark and giving so much to NWS. Now, thanks to the restructuring that has taken place, Deborah will be chairing the Board through its transition from a group that deals with the nuts and bolts of Studio management to a strategic group that guides the ongoing direction of NWS and makes high-level decisions, leaving the implementation of their strategy and policies to the Development Director and the management team.
You all know Holly James, our administrator, without whom NWS would undoubtedly have fallen apart when I went into hospital. She will continue to be responsible for membership administration and bookkeeping, and will be the main point of contact for NWS members, potential members and the general public. She’s also going to carry on sending out her excellent Friday newsletter, and has drawn the short straw in that she will deal with all minor premises issues.
Viv Purkiss joined us shortly before I went on leave, with the aim of carrying out a short-term piece of work to review and update our policies and procedures, and creating handbooks for staff and members. In my absence she’s given Deborah a lot of support in managing the day-to-day running of NWS and has taken over much of the business management activity, and she was responsible for developing and submitting our application to become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation earlier this year. We’ve benefitted greatly from Viv’s business and management expertise.
Last but not least (and not actually last either…), Kirsty Fox has taken on the role as Communications Manager, responsible for raising our profile in general and publicising our events. She’s done a great job, not only in spreading the word but also keeping us in the loop on important initiatives such as the new Nottingham Central Library, and the What’s Next group. I’m particularly pleased to see that she’s initiated and is running the Literary Nottingham group, which facilitates conversations among those providing literature-related activities in and around Nottingham.
I can’t finish this section without mentioning Sarah Manton, who has carried out some excellent consultancy work as part of our last Grants for the Arts project, and given us some valuable pointers towards becoming a more business-like organisation while retaining our creative and inclusive ethos. I’m pleased that Sarah has agreed to join our Board, so we won’t lose the benefit of her wisdom and energy.
So what do I do?
As a result of all these changes, my role has altered significantly. My three main jobs are:
- To act as an ambassador for NWS, representing the Studio in various forums (fora?), establishing effective relationships with other organisations and promoting members’ interests in general.
- To research and obtain funding to enable NWS to continue and develop its work in support of members and as one of the major literature organisations in Nottingham.
- To manage our project and activities programme, ensuring that we deliver an excellent service to members as part of a wider community of writers and readers.
In addition, I’m responsible for overseeing the work of the management team, and reporting to the Board at their meetings and as and when appropriate.
At the moment, I’m working hard on our next Grants for the Arts bid, which contains some exciting strands. We’re planning to invest more in writer development, bringing more industry experts to Nottingham and developing the Writer Highway project. We want to be more active as a key organisation in this UNESCO City of Literature, facilitating conversations within Nottingham and developing relationships with organisations in other Cities of Literature across the world. We’d like to run some big outreach writing projects with disadvantaged communities in and around Nottingham, widening our audience and bringing the pleasures of writing to those who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity. And we plan to work more in partnership with other literature organisations in Nottingham, including establishing a series of themed development and discussion days with Five Leaves Bookshop, and working with Writing East Midlands on various writer development activities.
There are many wonderful possibilities for the future of NWS and its members, and I’m over the moon to be back in the middle of it all. Please feel free to email me, come in and talk to me (I’m typically around on Wednesday afternoons and Fridays), collar me in the street, or otherwise badger me with your thoughts and ideas.
Nottingham Writers’ Studio