New Writing North secures Arts Council England Strategic Touring Funds

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New Writing North is delighted to announce that it has secured funding worth £167,065 over two years from Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund to support the production and touring of two new shows for young children and families to community venues across County Durham as part of Durham Book Festival.

The first show, which will tour this autumn, is a musical adaptation of My Granny is a Pirate by award-winning novelist Val McDermid. The book is Northumberland-based crime writer McDermid’s first foray into children’s books and the production will be directed by Annie Rigby and adapted by playwright Carina Rodney. The show will bring together musicians from The Sage Gateshead with a team of performers to bring to life Granny’s exciting adventures on the high seas.

The show will tour to community centres, libraries and schools across County Durham, with particular emphasis on areas that currently have little or no access to performance arts activity. The show will also be performed in Manchester and in Sheffield as part of a partnership with other book festivals in the North.

“For the past two years we have been working to expand Durham Book Festival activities across the county and this support will enable us to reach over 20 new venues,” said New Writing North chief executive Claire Malcolm. “We’re committed to enabling and encouraging communities that are often excluded from literary activity to feel that they can engage and enjoy books and reading.

“Our show will be specifically aimed at children under five and their families and will be accompanied by a range of participatory activities for families to encourage people to get involved.

“It’s a very exciting development for the book festival and we’re very grateful to Arts Council England for supporting us to expand and develop our work in such an imaginative way that will directly benefit the people of Durham.”

Alison Clark-Jenkins, regional director, Arts Council England said: “I’m delighted that New Writing North has been awarded support from our Strategic Touring programme. This funding will help to complement the work New Writing North already does in Durham with its annual book festival.

“The contribution these literature and performance activities will make towards a small scale touring network across the north of England is also very exciting, and exactly the kind of work our Strategic Touring programme is here to support.”

Durham Book Festival will take place throughout October at venues across County Durham with events for all ages. The festival is supported by Durham County Council and Durham University along with a range of other sponsors and supporters.