Papatango today launch WriteWest, a major playwriting programme across England’s South West, in a significant expansion of their commitment to new writers. It is entirely free for over 2000 artists, participants and audiences, and will foster a new writing ecosystem across the UK’s largest region. It facilitates a region-wide network of venues, companies and artists, to redress systemic weaknesses in provision, forge pathways to theatre, and create new plays and productions. WriteWest begins this month and will run until April 2020.
Papatango’s Artistic Director, George Turvey, said, “WriteWest is the culmination of three years of planning with a multitude of partners in the culturally vibrant South West – my home region. Prompted by the discovery that a huge proportion of writers and participants entering Papatango’s opportunities hail from here, we mapped new writing provision across the region, uncovering several significant challenges. WriteWest will redress these and open up new pathways for artists and audiences. It will commission and develop new plays, train and fund new producers, and teach and produce writers from state schools to community centres to thriving venues, thereby fostering a whole ecosystem for playwriting. As with all Papatango projects, it will be completely free to participants and partners, with extensive access measures including travel bursaries. We can’t wait to get to work with our fantastic collaborators to bring new South West stories to light.”
As part of Papatango’s commitment to the region, WriteWest will provide a £6.5K commission for an early-stage playwright living in the South West to develop a new play, with mentoring and support from regional partners including Nuffield Southampton Theatres, Salisbury Playhouse and Bristol’s Tobacco Factory Theatre. The commission will be open-application for playwrights across the region. The aim is to see the play ultimately produced within the region.
Papatango will also run two free playwriting courses for 36 playwrights at the Barbican Theatre, Plymouth and Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre, Taunton – with an aim of fostering networks of writers and opening venues up as hubs for writers and audiences alike. This will culminate in a staged reading of one of the plays at each venue, completely free to local audiences.
As part of a new initiative for the company, WriteWest will also run an 8 month producing course, sharing knowledge of how to create new companies/infrastructure for new writing, culminating in 3 producers being awarded £3K each of seed funding towards productions of new plays within the region. Based at partner venues including Theatre Royal Plymouth, Salisbury Playhouse and Nuffield Southampton Theatres, the course will help to develop a broader ecosystem for new writing, connect artists with producers, and invest in new independent productions.
In addition, WriteWest will deliver 18 free workshops in state schools across Gloucestershire, Hampshire and Bristol, inspiring and teaching students to write their own plays, which will result in performances by professional actors and publication of the plays, with free copies for each student.
It will also deliver 12 free workshops (with access measures) for adults without professional experience, led by specialist practitioners, in Exeter, South Gloucestershire and Somerset, in partnership with Literature Works South West and the Libraries service.
Travel bursaries of £4.5K help people access these free programmes, in recognition of the scale of the region. Those on JSA or other state support and/or with access requirements will be prioritised.
A spokesperson from Arts Council England in the South West added, “We are delighted to support Papatango through our National Lottery Project Grants fund to deliver a programme of talent development and new writing opportunities for South West playwrights and audiences. There is a huge amount of talent in the region and this project will support and inspire writers to develop and grow their skills.”