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Play on Words Day 4 - Part 2

ArtfulScribe delivered a presentation about funding routes for writers at Forest Arts Centre on Thursday 26th October. With only 13.7% of authors earning a living solely from writing, the event was created to offer clarity on funding and accessible pathways.

The panel consisted of Matt West, Director of ArtfulScribe, and Alice Flynn, Co-Director of Women of Words, Dorset, a project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Kate Offered (Relationship Manager for Arts Council England) was unable to attend, but provided a set of slides on the Arts Council strategy for culture and creativity, Let’s Create. These were well received.

Before the talk officially started, the participants explained what they hoped to get out of the forum. The 17 in attendance questioned how to make their work visible: how to set their artists rates; how to determine if work was successful enough to add to a CV.

In response, Matt offered two examples of successful DYCP (Developing Your Creative Practice) grants as case-studies. The DYCP’s purpose is to encourage a step-change in artistic practice, helping artists to change their direction of travel. It is a simpler funding application in contrast with Arts Council England’s Project Grants.

Alice discussed a successful grant from National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) and how, by drawing on the heritage of female domestic abuse victims in Dorset, she was able to amplify the voices of the disempowered women to a wider community. The NLHF grant was presented as a potential funding route for writers looking to work with local heritage.

The presentation closed with some top-tips from Alice: ask for help and advice from funders of the work you’re interested in; have a cheerleading buddy for when you complete small and large tasks relating to the bid; celebrate completing a bid and sending it off.

While this forum opened with expressions of uncertainty around funding routes, it ended on a more positive note, with participants grateful for the session’s clarity and enthused with a new-found confidence in their ability to tackle funding applications for projects of their own.

Carla Hall - Breakthrough Apprentice

On Thursday 26th October, The Hollies in New Milton welcomed the Writing for Wellbeing group for an afternoon’s creativity. In partnership with Solent Mind, this group offers a safe place for attendees to process their thoughts through writing.

Led by Matt West, Director of ArtfulScribe, 6 attendees took part. In the previous session, the group had been tasked to identify and write about a particular word. Two people shared their pieces, one titled ‘Why’ used repetition and anaphora as a poetic technique, while ‘Cinema’ considered how life could be seen as a projection onto a screen.

After a five-minute free write about their week, the group realised they had inadvertently focused on their pets. The group agreed that animals made their wellbeing healthier such as when they took their dogs for a walk, or were comforted by their cat.

Two latecomers arrived just in time for Chapter 4 of Ali Sparkes’ My Sister is a Dog, titled Feel Curls. Inspired by this text, the group set about rewriting their week, only this time from the perspective of animals: a frustrated dog watched a tennis ball game; a chihuahua walked on a beach of boulders.

One member of the group mentioned how calming it felt being in another headspace for a change. This distanced perspective was compared to Martian Poetry, a minor poetic movement in which assumptions about language are challenged by imagining how a Martian might communicate about what they witnessed.

Continuing with the aspect of perspective, Fleur Adcock’s poem Leaving the Tate was read aloud and a new homework challenge was set - to make a frame of two right angles with your fingers and write what's in that frame.

The Writing for Wellbeing session lasted just over two hours, with members looking forward to the rest of the festival. Some people were spotted holding a hand-shaped frame in front of them as they left.

Carla Hall - Breakthrough Artist.

Play on Words Day 3

‘Writers of the New Forest’ took place in New Milton on Wednesday 25th October through a presentation delivered by local historian, Nick Saunders. The talk introduced notable literary figures who have lived or based their work in the New Forest.

An intimate audience, ranging from people in their eighties to their twenties, fetched drinks from the Green Room bar before taking their seats. Nick assured everyone that certain locations mentioned in the presentation, even the spooky ones, would be visited on Saturday’s Heritage Walk.

Before introducing the writers Nick outlined Exbury, Lymington and Minstead as the geographic parameters for the evening’s talk. Minstead, Nick later revealed, was the final resting place for Arthur Conan Doyle.

Nick’s talk provided a clear structure for the audience to follow: he introduced the writer, a synopsis of their story, then linked them to the New Forest through an interesting fact. For example, Alice Liddell - the Alice, in Alice in Wonderland - married General Hargreaves at Westminster Abbey and spent most of her later life in and around Lyndhurst.

Other writers included in the presentation were Nevil Shute, John Heath-Stubbs, Edward Rutherford, Mary and Percy Shelley, Captain Marryat, Dennis Wheatley, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Elizabeth Gaudge. The latter won the Carnegie Medal for Writing in 1946.

Edward Rutherford’s The Forest, received an active response from the audience. Some audience members enjoyed the vast history of Saxons and Normans, with its collection of various stories and characters, while others felt the book was better used as a doorstop.

Once the presentation was over, Nick opened the discussion to the room and people suggested writers he had not included. Judging by the evening's chatter the talk was a success and provided great context for Saturday’s heritage walk.

Carla Hall - Breakthrough Apprentice.

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