Writing on the Wall

WoW develops writing and delivers a month long annual festival

Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre, Liverpool, L81 TH +44(0)151 703 0020

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Writing on the Wall is a dynamic, Liverpool-based arts organisation that coordinates projects and events that celebrate writing in all its forms. We work with a broad and inclusive definition of writing that embraces literature, creative writing, journalism and non-fiction, poetry, songwriting, and storytelling. WoW works with local, national and international writers whose work provokes controversy and debate. We work with communities to promote and celebrate individual and collective creativity. We produce a festival that is landmark event within the national cultural, providing  a showcase for both emerging and established literary talent that is truly representative of contemporary society.

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International Priorities

In May 2018, WoW's annual festival, themed 'Border Crossing' will invite audiences to consider UK's place within the world once Brexit has been carried through. WoW will encourage a creative response and cooperation with other creative European organisations through a series of digital exchanges, conversations, and publishing stories from local communities. The festival theme 'Border Crossing' will extend to international issues: the refugee crises, conflict and identity, economics, new technologies and ways of living. WoW has existing relationships with Catalan Pen and a number of writing organisations in Dublin

We plan to focus on developing international links in West Africa, particularly in The Gambia, made possible as a result of the work of one of our Co-Director's in developing artistic contacts in The Gambia. We plan to develop future international writing residential, which will include spoken word artists, and feature live performance in The Gambia as well as Gambian artists performing in the UK.

In December 2015 WoW's Co-Directors spent a week in New York to explore new partnerships and possible collaborations for the WoW Festival 2015 and the city's celebrations for the 175th anniversary of the Cunard Shipping line. We met with a host of organisations with similar aims and ethos to WoW's, including 826 New York, a sister organisation of 826 Valencia, a concept created by author Dave Eggers, House of Speakeasy and the legendary Nuyorican Poet's Cafe. WoW would like to explore the possibility of digital collaboration with these potential partners.

WoW has brought of a number of American writers, commentators and artists to its festival. Most notably Noam Chomsky, Walter Mosely, and Hip hop violinist and spoken artist Shayshahn McPherson. In the coming festival, a day of events will be dedicated to asking audiences 'Where are we Now?' following the major political shifts including Brexit and the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency. WoW is in discussion with representatives from the Dakota Pipeline protesters to attend the festival and participate in the discussions.

Key Strengths

Since 2000 Writing on the Wall have delivered seventeen annual festivals, inspiring creativity and delivering artistic excellence alongside a commitment to working with new and hard to reach audiences.

WoW has brought to Liverpool hundreds of renowned writers, artists and commentators, including Walter Mosley, AL Kennedy, Noam Chomsky, Germaine Greer and Debjani Chatterjee. In 2016 we brought together, for the first, time legendary dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson and rising star Hollie McNish. This unique event, a good example of WoW's innovative approach to programming, attracted a diverse audience who appreciated the ability to experience the cross spectrum of poetic talent. Feedback included:

"Thank you for the unique programming – new and old experience for me"
"Great contrasting acts"
"Hollie, Linton and Levi were exceptionally excellent"
"Incredibly warm, intimate and personal atmosphere - a joy"

We now have a 98% approval rating by festival audiences.

Our Pulp Idol novel writing competition launched the careers of two exciting new talents:

  • James Rice (Alice and the Fly), who, as a direct result of winning our Pulp Idol novel writing competition signed a two-book deal with Hodder and Stoughton
  • John Donoghue (The Deaths Head Chess Club), which has now been published in over five languages.

Through our Liverpool Young Writers programme we helped launch the the career of award-winning spoken word artist Daniel 'Blue Saint' Sebuyange.

We have delivered projects led, by professional writers, and published work from such diverse communities as:

  • stroke survivors
  • people suffering mental health issues
  • long-term unemployed
  • young carers and kinship carers
  • women with experience of being trafficked.

Partnership working is at the heart of WoW's approach. The many long-term partners it works with to co-deliver and support and co-promote projects, include:

WoW is a partner in several networks, including Creative Organisations of Liverpool (COoL) and the Merseyside Literature Partnership,and is chair of the Festival Forum group. We convene annually a Creative Planning meeting to which a range of stakeholders are invited including writers, artists, academics, festival and project participants, community workers, educators and media professionals.

In an independent evaluation, 100% of our audience 'loved' or 'liked' taking part in WoW projects; 93% said participation had helped with their social life; 75% said participation had encouraged them to take part in other arts events and activities. Feedback from our 'What's Your Pride Story? project sums up this impact:

"I feel more confident within a group as I have previously suffered from anxiety this has really helped. I have learnt lots of technical writing skills and also skills around performance & self confidence"

Seeking Partnerships With

WoW is seeking future partnerships  with arts and cultural organisations across Europe to explore a range of issues during our 2018 Festival, 'Border Crossing'. This is also Liverpool's 10th anniversary of the city being awarded European Capital of Culture, so for WoW this is fantastic opportunity to develop creative projects with communities across Europe as well as to feature European writers within our festival. 

Purpose of Partnerships

Writing on the Wall's flag ship creative writing programme 'What's your Story?'  has been delivered with a range of geographic and thematic communities, including: stroke survivors, young carers and women who have escaped human trafficking. 'What's Your Story?' aims to support personal development through creative writing and story-telling, with a view to increasing confidence and overcoming personal isolation. WoW would seek to pilot this project  with a number of European partners from both the arts and the social sectors.