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Managing Projects

Written by Anna Disley

This is how we think about putting projects together at New Writing North. There are no hard and fast rules and this is by no means the only way, but here are a few things to think about.

Think about your project using the following categories:

Aims and objectives     Partners     Audience or readership    Quality     Fundraising     Budget     Evaluation

Aims and objectives

The aim of your project is its overall intention. What do you hope your project will achieve? The objectives (and there are usually a few) are the steps you will take to get there.

For example the aim of our Young Writers City project is:

For young people in Newcastle to reach their potential through engagement in literature, arts and culture

The objectives are:

To introduce the idea of creative writing to large numbers of pupils through inspirational and ambitious writer-led projects in school

For professional writers to work with the same young people over a long period to develop pupils’ confidence and ideas

To have high expectations of young people and to have an outcome and audience in mind for the final work (performance, film, publication)

To support pupils who show a particular interest or talent for the work and to identify or set up provisions for those pupils to continue their interest

Partners

It is rare that NWN undertakes a project that doesn’t have partners. Working in partnership enables us, and the partner organisation(s) to get more done and have a greater impact than any of us could have alone. The key to effective partnerships is to have a shared vision and a mutually beneficial relationship. For example in the school we are working with on the Young Writers’ City project described above we would be:

Providing an experience for the pupils that the school is unable or doesn’t have the capacity to provide

We would be providing them with another way of engaging hard to reach pupils

We would find ways for our project to feed into their curriculum

The project would provide them with PR and profile

When thinking about your project try to identify which other organisations might also benefit from your work, and approach them.

Audience or Readership

For any arts or literature project you need to identify who you are creating the work for. Who is the audience? Who are the readers? And where will you find them?

In the project described above, we defined our audience as the young people involved in the workshops, other pupils in the school, family and friends of participants, teachers in the school and arts audiences.

Your marketing plan identifies how you will engage those audiences. The plan would how you will use the following PR and marketing tools:

Press Releases

Social Media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Direct Mail

Leaflets and posters

Adverts including on social media

Events including launches, roadshows, workshops

Quality

How you define quality is very subjective, but ‘what quality looks like’ is something worth considering when putting your project together.

For us in the project example, the features of the project that we felt would assist quality included:

Employing writers who are experienced at working with young people, have high expectations and who are committed to the work

That the work is coproduced with the participants

That there is provision for legacy once the project is over

That there is a commitment to high production values whatever the end product is

That the young people know they are creating work for an audience

Fundraising

You will need to have a plan for fundraising for your project, especially if you don’t think you are going to meet the costs from book sales or ticket income.

Arts Council England run Grants for the Arts which is a programme that support arts and cultural projects in England. Individuals are eligible to apply. You can apply for up to £15,000 and this is recommended if you are just starting out on your career, or over £15,000 if you are experienced.

Other sources include:

Crowdfunding using websites such as Kickstarter.

Trusts and Foundations. Examples include Paul Hamlyn, Garfield Weston, Esmee Fairbairn and the Foyle Foundation. Many trusts don’t fund individuals but the Jerwood Foundation does.

Business sponsorship

Partner support (eg. box office guarantees)

Budget

Of course budgets will vary depending on the project, but a few things to consider are:

Writers’ and artists’ fees

Travel costs

Marketing costs

Materials

Production costs

Evaluation costs

Contingency (a small reserve of funds to cover unexpected costs – usually between 5-10% of the total budget).

Management fees

Evaluation

In all the projects we produce we want to know what the impact of the work has been so that we can learn from the challenges or build on the successes. At the beginning of the project it’s a good idea to identify what success will look like. To do this we recommend revisiting your aims and objectives and identifying ‘measures of success’.

The objectives are:

To introduce the idea of creative writing to large numbers of pupils through inspirational and ambitious writer-led projects in school

MOS: that at least 300 pupils took part in the project

 

For professional writers to work with the same young people over a long period to develop pupils’ confidence and ideas

MOS: that 50% of participants said their confidence had improved as a result of the project

 

To have high expectations of young people and to have an outcome and audience in mind for the final work (performance, film, publication)

MOS: that feedback on social media was generally positive

 

To support pupils who show a particular interest or talent for the work and to identify or set up provisions for those pupils to continue their interest.

MOS: that 10% of participants continue to be involved in arts activity.

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