Open Call for Applications for: ‘New Narratives for the North East’ Young Writers Commissions Programme

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What does the North East mean to you? How can writers shape the future of the North East? Our ambitious new commissioning project seeks to find out.

In early 2020, we will commission two new pieces of work from young writers (aged 12-18) living in the North East, to tell us about the region from their perspective. This will run alongside our adult commissioning programme.

We are asking young writers to think about what the North East means to them; what happens in the region now, what has happened in the past and what might its future story be? With each piece of writing we want to find a unique perspective on the North East.

Writing can be submitted in any written form (poetry, stories, non-fiction) and the two selected winners will get the opportunity to be mentored by a professional writer in order to develop their work for publication as one of our New Narratives for the North East.


We need new stories

We are living in a moment when many people, especially young people, feel uncertain about their futures. Brexit and the ensuing political fallout presents an uncertain future for the whole country but especially for the North East.

This project will take place at a point in time when change is happening fast.

Big, urgent questions need to be asked about what role our region, built on coal and formed in the heat of the industrial revolution, has to play in a greener future.


What we’re looking for

At a time when the North East is questioning its identity, we want to draw in voices that have not yet been heard clearly enough in our North East story: Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic voices, LGBTQ+ voices, working class voices, disabled voices and female voices.

Most of all we want to hear from young people as the voices of the future: what do the young people who live here think about our region? What do they want the next chapter of its story to be?


How the work will be promoted and used

By accepting a commission, the young writer will agree to their work being used by New Writing North (this may be online, in print and/or as a podcast).

Work may be shared with and used by partners across the North East Culture Partnership and beyond to help influence how others think and talk about the future of the region.


Selection criteria 

Applicants need to live in the North East of England and must be between 12 and 18 years of age at the time of application.

Applicants are asked to respond to the following locations: Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, County Durham and the Tees Valley, or to create work that explores a universal North East experience, idea or theme.

We will aim to commission work in a variety of forms and are happy to consider fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, essays and work made digitally.

We will select two young writers to participate in the process. They will each receive prize money of £100 alongside a package of mentoring support from a professional writer to develop their work for New Narratives of the North East.

The work produced must be original and be made specifically for this project.


How to apply

Application is by the submission of a 500-word statement explaining what you would like to write about, along with a summary of why you’d like to tell this story now. We will also ask you to tell us about any writing you’ve done before (it’s fine if this is your first time!) and submit a sample of your work, which should not be longer than 1,000 words. Applications are to be made online only here.



Please note, as of Monday 20 January we have extended the deadline to the end of day, Friday 24 January 2020. The commissions will be offered in early February 2020, when successful applicants will be paired with mentors to develop their work. The deadline for completing your piece of writing will be 30 April 2020.



A decision-making panel made up of representatives from the North East Culture Partnership staff and partners and New Writing North will make the final decisions on which commissions to offer.


Queries about making an application

Queries about applications can be made to [email protected]. Please note that the NWN office will be closed over the Christmas and New Year period. We will endeavour to answer queries as quickly as we can.




This project is created by New Writing North for the North East Culture Partnership and is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Durham Book Festival (which is supported by Durham County Council, Arts Council and Durham University) and by Arts Council England.