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New partnership announcement for Library of Birmingham
Press Release 25 October 2010
Local writers are set to benefit from a new collaboration announced today between the Library of Birmingham and Writing West Midlands, the regional literature development agency.
Newly appointed Birmingham Poet Laureate, Roy McFarlane, joined Library of Birmingham Project Director, Brian Gambles, and Director of the Birmingham Book Festival, Sara Beadle, at the site of the Library of Birmingham to unveil details of the new collaboration which will enable local writers to tap into a wealth of resources and activities shared by the two organisations.
Following on from the partnership announcement between the BFI Mediatheque and the Library of Birmingham earlier this year, this latest literary link-up is part of the Library of Birmingham's strategy to forge a series of creative partnerships in the region and beyond by the time it opens in 2013. The partnership will generate a high-profile programme of literary events during opening year and will see the Birmingham Book Festival adopt the Library of Birmingham as its new home.
Welcoming the collaboration, Brian Gambles said: "This partnership with Writing West Midlands means that library visitors will be able to access a year-round programme of writer development opportunities and literature events all under one roof. The building's physical connection to Birmingham Repertory Theatre (The REP) and the new shared studio theatre will provide enhanced opportunities for linking the written and spoken word. It's an example of how we plan to build on the services we provide to the public through skill-sharing with regional and national organisations."
The partnership marks a continuation of Birmingham Libraries' ongoing commitment to harnessing local creative talent with annual programmes including the Birmingham Poet Laureate and Young Poet Laureate competitions helping to recognise and nurture local emerging poets and events such as the annual Young Readers' Birmingham festival developing reading in the city at grass roots level.
With help from the Library of Birmingham, Writing West Midlands also hopes to expand the Birmingham Book Festival - already a highlight in the city's cultural calendar. This year's festival which ended last week has featured 35 events and workshops over a period of 13 days and visits from over 3,000 people, with audience numbers in excess of 200 for some talks.
Jonathan Davidson, Chief Executive of Writing West Midlands and Associate Director of the Birmingham Book Festival, hopes that the partnership will mean increased engagement between writers on a national and international level.
"We'll be working with the Library of Birmingham to establish links between regions such as the partnership we have with the Free Word Centre in London, where writers can become involved in an exchange programme. We also hope to build relationships internationally through our links with organisations such as the Dutch Literature Foundation and the Vancouver International Writers Festival enabling local writers to travel abroad whilst hosting international writers here."
It's expected that the Library of Birmingham will also be the focal point for Writing West Midlands' networking conference The Writers' Toolkit, which aims to help both emerging and established writers to learn aspects of the writing business, and to network with other members of the creative writing industry.
"We're also planning to explore writer connections with Birmingham Rep, which will share a performance space with Library of Birmingham," Davidson adds. "Some of our development work will be available to writers coming to the theatre to create work for performance."
Birmingham's recently appointed Poet Laureate, Roy McFarlane who is also a student at the National Academy of Writing based at Birmingham City University said: "To become Birmingham's Poet Laureate was a huge honour for me, and I'm delighted that Birmingham Libraries is extending its commitment to local writers in the area by partnering with Writing West Midlands. There is a huge amount of writing talent in this region, and this new collaboration, and the continued growth of the Birmingham Book Festival, is certain to help untapped talent to fulfil its potential."
Director of the Birmingham Book Festival, Sara Beadle, said: "Writing West Midlands is excited to grow and build upon the existing relationship it enjoys with Birmingham Libraries and welcomes the addition to the city of the new, uniquely innovative Library of Birmingham building project. We hope this will be the backdrop and foundation to a multitude of cultural activities, not least in the field of literature."