Climate emergency: Stories are as important as science

Adam Cooper with some children examining the earh
23 Oct 2023

Think back to summer 2022. What do you remember? If Claire Malcolm remembers one thing, it is the fear and foreboding she felt when UK temperatures topped 40C. 

Libraries 'worth at least £3.4bn' to economy

11 Jul 2023

Libraries across England generate at least £3.4bn in value a year to the economy through the services they provide, a study has found.

The Guardian reports that researchers at the University of East Anglia discovered that the services a typical branch provides in a year are worth £1m.

The study found the overall value of libraries, through supporting children’s literacy, digital inclusion and health, could equate to six times their running costs.

The project was funded by library services in the east of England and received a £30,000 contribution from Arts Council England (ACE).

“The evidence is clear: investing in libraries brings huge returns for local communities and the public purse,” Isobel Hunter, Chief Executive of Libraries Connected, the charity that commissioned the report, said.

Luke Burton, Director for Libraries at ACE said he hopes the UEA report can help make the case to potential partners and funders to support libraries.

How to curate a festival

Panellist on stage at the Belfast book festival
12 Jun 2023

Belfast Book Festival is celebrating its 13th edition this week, bringing together Ireland's storytelling talent. Sophie Hayles is challenging the traditional model to deliver a festival that is more reflective of the communities across the island. 

Birkbeck proposes cuts to creative teaching

03 Nov 2022

Birkbeck, University of London plans to cut 140 roles this academic year, including up to 11 staff in the department of English, theatre and creative writing.

Birkbeck, which offers classes almost exclusively in the evenings, says the proposals, if approved, could lead to the loss of up to 140 posts. A spokesperson for the university said that many of these are already vacant or will become so over the academic year.

Alongside cuts to English, theatre and creative writing, up to seven roles in film, media and cultural studies will be affected.

Birkbeck has said it needs to make the cuts to fill a multi-million pound deficit caused by a fall in student numbers, but the union has vowed to fight the proposals, saying they are "a disaster for students and the university".

Last week Birkbeck's local University and College Union (UCU) said overwhelmingly voted for a motion of no confidence in the senior leadership team and to move towards an industrial dispute. 

UCU Birkbeck branch president Mike Berlin said: "We will not allow hard working staff to lose their jobs because of mistakes by senior management. 

"Birbeck's cuts, which do not include any plans for recovery and growth, are a recipe for managed decline. Birkbeck has a proud history of reaching students who otherwise would not enter higher education. 

"Sacking 140 staff, including up to one in four teaching staff, threatens to trash that history. The cuts would severely harm student learning and jeopardise the university's commitment to social mobility and lifelong learning. 

"We urge management to rethink its knee jerk job cuts and instead work with us to look at how we can attract more students. If the university refuses to do so we will have no option other than to begin taking steps for an industrial ballot."

Edinburgh to appoint music-writer-in-residence

06 Apr 2022

The city of Edinburgh will hold a competition to select a music-writer-in-residence.

The appointee will chronicle the recovery of the local live music scene on the webistes of Edinburgh Music Lovers and Forever Edinburgh, a £90,000 campaign by Visit Scotland.

Edinburgh Music Lovers founder Jim Byers he that "telling more people about music in Edinburgh is something I’m very passionate about ".

"Local venues and artists need support more than ever and a music writer in residence can help showcase Edinburgh to music fans around the UK and also showcase and develop their writing skills at the same time.”

Permanent free entry to children's book museum

05 Apr 2022

Seven Stories, the national centre for children's books, is making entry free for good.

The museum removed admission fees on a trial basis in February and received record visitor numbers - 7,500 in a single week.

Since free entry aligns with its overall engagement strategy, it has decided to keep the model permanently.

CEO Wendy Elliott said attendance at the Newcastle-upon-Tyne site now far exceeds pre-pandemic levels.

"It was fantastic to see so many new visitors enjoying our galleries and events, from our region and further afield.

"Our goal is to put stories at the heart of every childhood, no matter what background or place you grow up in, and in order to do that we need be as accessible as possible to as many children as possible."

Scheme takes aim at declining theatre commissions

14 Mar 2022

Fifteen plays will be commissioned under a new scheme to address a "devastating" decline in opportunities during the pandemic.

The Writers' Guild of Great Britain (WGGB), HighTide Theatre, UK Theatre and the Independent Theatre Council have partnered on the New Play Commission Scheme, securing £50,000 in funding. There is a £5,000 award for the best play by an unpublished writer.

A survey of UK Theatre members revealed new commissions had declined by a third since 2019/20, while a poll of WGGB members indiciated three quarters of playwrights had lost income during Covid-19. Half believed they would not be working in theatre in two years' time.

HighTide Artistic Director Suba Das said the commissions not only offer "a lifeline to both writers and companies across the UK but helps ensure new writing forms part of how we all move forwards as citizens and communities".

The scheme will launch in April.

Digital ‘no substitute’ to traditional libraries

01 Feb 2022

Most adults think digital services are an inadequate replacement for traditional libraries.

More than half (57%) expressed their preference for in-person services in a survey by the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

Just under a quarter (22%) agreed an online replacement was adequate.

The number of people using digital library services was up 11% last year on pre-pandemic levels, amounting to one fifth of all library users.

University of Glasgow professor David McMenemy, one of the research leads, said the findings suggest people missed libraries during the lockdowns.

"They are also social spaces at the heart of communities."

£95m British Library project gets go-ahead

10 Jan 2022

The British Library has received the green light for a £95m redevelopment project of its Boston Spa site in West Yorkshire. 

The refurbishment will create 220km extra shelf space in a new storage facility equipped with a public viewing gallery.

An £8.5m Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme grant to install 730 solar panels, ground source heat pump system and improve insulation has also been secured.

British Library Chief Operating Officer Phil Spence is delighted Leeds City Council approved plans for the redevelopment.

"It marks a major step forward towards transforming our presence in the north of England and creating a sustainable British Library for everyone."

Leaders take top honours in New Years list

Peter Murray at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
07 Jan 2022

Over 90 arts professionals were recognised for services to the sector in 2021.

Curators and librarians among 'most trusted' professions

13 Dec 2021

Museum curators and librarians rank among the top five most trusted professions in the UK, according to a survey by Ipsos Mori.

93% of Britons said they trust librarians to tell the truth, second only to nurses at 94%.

It's the first time librarians have made it into the top of the index, which confirms growing distrust in the police and slightly more trust in politicians, journalists and professional footballers.

86% of people trust museum curators, up four percentage points since last year, the survey found.

Scotland gives libraries £1.25m lifeline

16 Nov 2021

Twenty-three library projects across Scotland will receive a share of the £1.25m Public Library Covid Relief Fund.

The Scottish Government has awarded funding to local authorities to reopen libraries that closed during the pandemic, start wellbeing cafes and facilitate home library services.

The largest grant of £448,000 will help reopen five Glasgow libraries and increase opening hours across the city.

Scotland's Culture Minister Jenny Gilruth said the funding reflects the Government's goal of driving cultural recovery through its communities.

"This fund will see the provision of community-centred projects aimed at, among other things, reducing social isolation, promoting mental wellbeing and reducing the poverty-related attainment gap."

£1.9m to transform 500 primary school libraries

pupil sat in a primary school library
03 Nov 2021

New investment into the World of Stories programme will target seven areas highlighted as Arts Council England priority places.

Arts and higher education: a successful partnership in action

three people in discussion
21 Oct 2021

Creating and sharing new knowledge - through teaching, learning, impact and public engagement - lies at the heart of relationships between universities and cultural organisations, Professor Katy Shaw and Claire Malcolm write. 

Writing for health

using a computer on a sofa
13 Jul 2021

It's widely agreed that arts and creativity can boost mental health and wellbeing. But less well known is the positive effect that writing can have, says Christina Bunce

On the tightropes

book cover for tactics for the tightrope
13 Jul 2021

How can we build a fairer cultural sector that works for artists, organisations, and communities? Mark Robinson explores some tactics for the tightrope act of shared culture.

Use your Voice

contributors to Voice magazine
06 Jul 2021

A charity in the West Midlands is championing young people’s voices and youth leadership through a range of different activities. Tom Inniss nurtures the talents of aspiring arts and culture journalists.

Towards a more civic theatre

Cover on Dan Hutton's Towards a Civic Theatre
16 Jun 2021

It’s easy to blame the challenges now facing theatre on the longest shutdown of stages since the mid-17th century. But these problems began well before the pandemic, argues Dan Hutton

Free Word to close after 12 years

24 May 2021

The first National Portfolio Organisation lost to the effects of the pandemic will close its doors next week, leaving a gap in support for writers, artists and activists.

'Creators Council' mooted to help workforce and assist recovery

13 May 2021

A parliamentary report into writers' experience of Covid-19 says "a clear line of communication between the Government and the creative workforce" would address gaps in support - and save an £11bn industry from a cliff edge.


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