On Tuesday 5th September, 25 First Story writers attended our annual Skills Share Day at our Webber Street office in London. We were pleased to welcome writers new to First Story including Freddie Machin, Ruth Awolola, Sarah Hussain and Arji Manuelpillai who we hope to place in residencies this year along with more experienced writers – some had been with us all 15 years. Writers attending came from London, East Midlands, Yorkshire and the North West. Skills Share Day is a chance for our writers to come together, undertake peer to peer training and hear our plans for the year ahead.
Our CEO Antonia Byatt gave a keynote in celebration of 15 years of First Story and spoke about our beginnings in 2008, where we are now, and the importance of our work. Head of Programmes Beth Goddard presented a review of the previous academic year 2022-23, highlighting challenges and detailing plans for 2023-24.
Federica Fiorillo, Rights & Licensing Executive from the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), led an important and informative session on copyright law (directly relevant to our anthology production); suggesting how writers might talk to students about copyright, Intellectual Property, and plagiarism.
Lunch was a delightful, sunny break spent in the Webber Street courtyard with writers catching up with pals and making new ones. There was also a chance for writers to discuss the anthology process with our Editorial Manager Sophie Jones.
After lunch, workshops were run by writers Dan Powell, Jasmine Cooray, and Kevin Fegan on advanced aspects of prose, poetry, and scriptwriting with writers exploring how to challenge students to produce complex and interesting work. Panel sessions rounded off the afternoon led by Francesca Beard, Andy Craven-Griffiths, Pete Hobbs, Cecilia Knapp, Rachel Seiffert and Ashley Hickson-Lovence. Topics including maintaining attendance throughout the programme, supporting students with editing work, and residencies in Alternative Provision settings were discussed.
First Story’s writers are an essential part of our programme, acting as both ambassadors for First Story within their assigned school, and for creative writing within their region. We look forward to supporting our writers through the year ahead and creating access to further writer development and learning opportunities.
Feedback on the day
It’s just very reassuring to be around other writers who’ve had similar challenges – I can share useful ideas.
It has been lovely to connect with First Story staff and writers and I feel I’ve learned a lot about others’ practice.