IdeasTap and Writers’ Centre Norwich worked together to develop creative writing opportunities for our members and to expand Writers’ Centre’s national engagement with emerging artists. They were one of our key writing partners and supported young artists working in poetry, fiction and much else in between.
The partnership began in 2013 with a Live Literature masterclass with the brilliant performance poet Luke Wright, offering advice on everything from going to Edinburgh to dealing with agents. There was also a secret poetry summer project at Latitude Festival and several spa events including an unofficial guide to entering fiction competitions.
However, the first large-scale project, under the IdeasTap Inspires banner, launched in April 2014. This super career-boosting project gave a bespoke and sustained mentoring programme for 10 young fiction writers aged under 30. We received over 270 applications for the brief and 75 applicants across the country were offered places at the workshops. Across the course of the scheme, Writers’ Centre Norwich employed 11 artists, delivered six months of mentoring along with a total of nine additional workshops and development activities. What’s more, the final showcase event in London attracted over 50 agents, publishers and guests, all of which had made a huge impact on the careers of those members lucky enough to be involved.
Don’t believe us? As a result of the partnership between IdeasTap and Writers’ Centre Norwich, at least six new novels have been written (and even completed). Of the 10 writers on the Inspires scheme, three have now signed with literary agents, two have been read and are being considered by agents and one was selected for a two-month residency programme in Korea. In the words of Laura Stimson, the programme manager for Inspires at the Writers’ Centre, “The scheme helped the writers to develop their artistic practice and raise their aspirations, put them in touch with the wider literary industry and created a lasting peer network.”
The partnership between IdeasTap and Writers Centre Norwich was of huge value, not only in terms of peer engagement and support, but in creating a hub through which opportunities could be widely accessed. “Many of these opportunities were of great artistic value and excellence, delivered by established and esteemed partners in the industry but were, crucially, free to those taking part,” says Laura Stimson. “Access to the creative industries will be greatly altered by the closure of IdeasTap.”