Literature Wales and COVID-19 – 14.5.2020 Update
How we are adapting our activity:
The organisational mission we set in our Strategic Plan for 2019-2022 is to inspire communities, develop writers and celebrate the literary culture of Wales. We are an agile organisation, and although we have inevitably had to postpone much of our activity, our commitment to this mission remains as strong as ever through this troubling time. During the last few weeks, we’ve been consulting with partners, funders and stakeholders across Wales to understand the ongoing and long-term impact of the pandemic on the sector. This input has helped shape our programme of activity to ensure we continue to find new and innovative ways to fulfil our mission.
Writer Survey – How can we help?
We are currently exploring how we can best continue to support writers, readers and audiences during this uncertain time. By letting us know how we can help, you will contribute to shaping our activity programme to suit the needs of the writers and readers of Wales. Please fill in our survey here: www.literaturewales.org/how-can-we-help
On 1 April, we announced a round of funding for freelance writers to devise and create original digital content and projects for audiences. Our second call-out is currently open (deadline Monday 18 May), and is offered in partnership with the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Wales. The main focus of this second round of commissions is health and well-being, however other digital content and projects with a strong participatory strand are also eligible.
These call-outs are intended to offer paid work to those freelance writers who have seen their work and commissions decline in recent weeks. In addition, the content created will address health and wellbeing challenges through literature and creative writing; and entertain, inspire and educate creative audiences, early career writers and participants across Wales.
Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre
The Centre and the on-site writing retreat cottage are currently closed to the public with around the clock on-site security and essential maintenance taking place. All upcoming courses and retreats have been postponed, and we are closely monitoring the situation and following Government guidelines regarding when we can safely reopen. We hope to reschedule all cancelled courses when it is safe to do so, however in the meantime, there are some exciting developments in the pipeline including an online poetry masterclass, bitesize cynghanedd video lessons and a week-long online creative writing course.
Our three Laureates
The Children’s Laureate Wales and Bardd Plant Cymru are both ambassadorial roles which introduce literature to children in an energetic, dynamic and exciting way, and promote the right of children to have their voices heard. The laureates usually spend much of their time delivering school-based workshops and hosting events at festivals up and down the country. While this is not currently possible, in order to continue engaging with and inspiring the children of Wales, Gruffudd Owen, Bardd Plant Cymru and Eloise Williams, Children’s Laureate Wales have been setting weekly writing challenges which are published on our website and on the following Twitter accounts: @Laureate_Wales @barddplant
The National Poet of Wales, Ifor ap Glyn has continued his ambassadorial mission of promoting Welsh literature on the national and international stage by taking part in two online festivals. Watch his contributions below:
‘Mothertongues’ at Cúirt International Festival of Literature
‘Gobaith – Hope’ at Versopolis’ Festival of Hope
Wales Book of the Year
The Wales Book of the Year Award is an important event in the Welsh literary calendar, and after consulting, we’re pleased to announce that the Awards will continue this summer in a new digital format. The shortlist will be announced on 1 July and the winners awarded during August 2020. We are working with partners to develop exciting content to platform and engage the vibrant literary community here in Wales and beyond. These include panel discussions, readings and interactive activities to coincide with the announcements. Find out more about Wales Book of the Year here: https://www.literaturewales.org/our-projects/wales-book-year/
For up to date information about Literature Wales’ activity, including future opportunities for writers, keep an eye on the News section of our website as well as our social media channels (links for these can be found towards the end of this page).
Other organisational updates:
Arts Council of Wales’ Urgent Response Fund for Individuals
We were pleased to have contributed 50% of our earmarked lottery funding for 2020-2021 to the Arts Council of Wales’ Arts Resilience Fund in response to the COVID-19 crisis. We were one of many organisations who contributed to this broader package of support, which includes the Urgent Response Fund for Individuals for those freelance creative individuals most in need of financial assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Further information can be found here: https://arts.wales/urgent-response-fund-for-individuals
Literature Wales Staff and Directors
Literature Wales staff are working from home, and we are utilising many tools and software to ensure that our internal communication is effective, and that activity can be adapted swiftly and sensibly. The Senior Leadership Team meets on a twice–weekly basis, and a full team meeting takes place bi-weekly. Staff well-being is a priority for the organisation, therefore as well as daily check-ins with line managers we are keeping in touch with virtual coffee mornings and quizzes, morning mindfulness routines and by sharing recommendations of books, TV and film, recipes, and other cultural happenings.
We have held two Extraordinary Management Board meetings to discuss essential governance issues arising due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Directors and Executives are closely and continuously following the advice of the Government and our funders as they steer the organisation through this period of uncertainty.
Support for Writers:
We are fully aware that this continues to be an intensely worrying time for individuals and communities. We hope that many writers will have received confirmation that they will be supported, whether through the Government’s Income Support Scheme or the Arts Council of Wales Urgent Response Fund.
If you have any specific queries or concerns about how the coming weeks and months might affect you and the writing community, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
In the meantime, the following organisations may be useful:
The Society of Authors
The Authors Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), the Royal Literary Fund (RLF), the T S Eliot Foundation in partnership with English PEN, and Amazon UK have contributed financial resources to create the Authors’ Emergency Fund, to help support authors impacted financially by the growing health crisis. https://www.societyofauthors.org/Grants/contingency-funds
Royal Literary Fund
The Royal Literary Fund is a UK charity that has been helping authors since 1790. It provides grants and pensions to writers in financial difficulty: https://www.rlf.org.uk/
You can contact us via our usual email address: email@example.com. If you wish to contact us regarding specific activity, please use the addresses below, copying firstname.lastname@example.org into the message:
Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre: email@example.com
Writers on Tour: firstname.lastname@example.org
Writers’ Bursaries and Mentoring: email@example.com
Children’s Laureate Wales: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bardd Plant Cymru: email@example.com
Wales Book of the Year: LLYF-WBOTY@literaturewales.org
Press & Media Enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org