Commonword announces the wonderful news that its bid to receive funding under the Arts Council of England’s National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) programme has been successful. We, at Commonword, thank Arts Council England for continuing to support our work.

Julia Davis, Commonword’s Chair says: “”We are delighted with this news which will underpin our continued commitment to new writers. We look forward to developing our creative programme of workshops, digital innovation, conferences and cross sector partnerships.”

Commonword’s Chief Executive, Pete Kalu states: “This represents a ringing endorsement of our diversity and innovation focused approach to literature development and specifically our five strand plan to help more new writers become successful over the coming years.”


Those five strands are:

  1. Black Digital + Creative Texts:

Commonword will foster BAME writers pioneering innovative e-based fiction such as twitter platfomed fiction; flash fiction multimedia stories involving sound, visuals and text; games which have text as a central element; geo-interactive stories – utilising smart phone geo-positioning technologies to tell stories specific to black places.  The programme will include Digital Creative Labs, Workshops, Showcasings, Masterclasses and visiting artists.

  1. Advanced Black Fiction Focus

We have become one of the UK’s leading movers, shakers and change-makers in the field of Diversity and Children and Young Adult (CYA) Fiction.  We intend to maintain that progress while  leading  again in supplementary areas including in black crime fiction and black scifi fiction where there is a growing movement of black writers and critics.  Our programme will include workshops, seminars, conferences, and masterclasses.

  1. Spoken Word

Responding to demand, particularly from new and refugee writers to help them develop live, text centred, performance we have grown a strong presence in developing monologue and performed poetry, particularly via our Women In The Spotlight programme. The work often forms the starting point for the writers to experiment with other more two dimensional text based forms such as the short story and longer fiction. We will intensify and broaden the scope of our work in this area.

  1. Biennial Black Writers Conference

We have brought people together and caused major shifts in the creative writing fields via our much lauded Black writers conference.  Outputs have ranged from quarter million pound AHRC funded research projects (Mediating Marginalities: Lancaster University) to new publishing houses (HopeRoad) to radical change in the mainstream publishing industry (Diversity Writing For Children agenda went mainstream). The Conferences will continue to push game-changing voices, technologies and critical analyses of literature and the literature industry.

  1. Biennial Festival of Firsts

We will provide place and time for new writers including young writers, to learn their craft, showcase their work and grow to success. We will provide workshops and performance opportunities for new writers throughout the year including via our Superheroes of Slam format so spoken word artists can network, learn from one another and showcase their work. These initiatives will be brought together and supplemented via our biennial Festival of Firsts. This Festival will celebrate innovation of art form as well as new writers and will include immersive novel readings, Who Wrote What (4 new writers read 4 scripts. But who wrote which script?), the showcasing of digital creatives, Audio Booth & Peep Show events and sign language stories.


We look forward to joining with all our partners, collaborators, sponsors and participants in making this programme happen. Given the backing also of other North based literature organisations by Arts Council England, the North looks set to have a thriving literature scene for the next five years.


More about the Arts Council England’s NPO decisions can be found here.