Writers blocked

April 28, 2011

We write to express our dismay and bewilderment at the Arts Council's removal of funding from the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE).

In recent years, NAWE, as the subject association for creative writing, has served not only to promote the growth and understanding of creative writing as an academic discipline, but also to connect those of us working in universities with the whole community of writers in education and beyond, fostering creativity and the production of creative works across an increasingly wide constituency. Its initiatives have included the production of a much-used benchmark statement for creative writing degree courses, the establishment of a postgraduate research network and the hosting of training events, symposia and conferences.

NAWE is the one national organisation that links writers in universities (both students and staff) to teachers and writers working in schools and community settings - a true example of joined-up thinking across the educational spectrum.

To quote Randall Albers, head of the fiction writing department at Columbia College Chicago, one of the largest writing programmes in the US: "No organisation in the British Isles has done more to support the development of writers and promote productive conversations about the future of writing than NAWE."

It is incomprehensible that the Arts Council doesn't see fit to support this organisation, which is strategically vital to the development of creativity in the writing arts.

Steve May, Bath Spa University (chair)

Helena Blakemore, University of East London (vice-chair)

Craig Batty, Bournemouth University

Maggie Butt, Middlesex University

Hayden Gabriel, University College Plymouth St Mark and St John

Susan Greenberg, Sharon Norris, Roehampton University

Graeme Harper, Chair, Creative Universities

Andrea Holland, Norwich School of Art and Design

Keith Jebb, University of Bedfordshire

Barbara Large, University of Winchester

Nigel McLoughlin, University of Gloucestershire

Graham Mort, Lancaster University

Derek Neale, The Open University

Robert Sheppard, Edge Hill University

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