We’re looking for a socially engaged writer, experienced at working with local communities and arts and culture organisations, to write a fiction or non-fiction story as part of a nationwide project to celebrate the future of the local high street

High Street Tales is part of the cultural programme of the High Street Heritage Action Zones (HAZ) project run by Historic England. Its aim is to create a set of stories to be broadcast and distributed online that celebrate the local high street, the people and communities who depend on them and centre their lives around theirs, and the roles they have played – and will continue to play – in our lives.

Literature Works is one of seven writer development agencies working across England with a shared commitment to supporting the artistic and professional development of writers and promoting a greater diversity of voices in the many worlds of writing and reading. The other agencies’ call outs for theirchosen towns can be found here: National Centre for Writing, New Writing North, New Writing South, Spread The Word, Writing East Midlands, Writing West Midlands

We are working together as part of the HAZ project to create stories from seven towns across England exploring the communities who live there and the role that their high street plays for them. Each of us is commissioning one writer to create a story from one town.

Literature Works is recruiting a writer to create a story about Weston super Mare, someone who either lives there, is from there or who has a connection to the town that would inform enrich this commission.

England’s high streets have a long history and have always been at the heart of our communities. They are our landmarks and points of reference; our meeting places and marketplaces. Across the centuries people have gathered together on high streets, from market days to turning on the Christmas lights; coffee dates to national jubilees. In a recent survey, 45% of respondents indicated that their primary high street use was non-retail related.

Every high street in England, whether it is in a medieval market town or a post-war city centre, has a unique and distinctive history that creates identity and a sense of place. Despite this, high streets are struggling, and need to adapt to survive. As the selected writer, your commissioned story would be a way to help people reconnect with their high streets, helping them see it as a place that can thrive and be of relevance to them and their lives.

The full set of High Street Tales will capture the everyday magic that plays out on high streets across England. We are looking to work with a writer committed to co-creation and uncovering untold stories, who will create an inspiring, thought provoking and entertaining story from their research, consultation and documentation.

Your short story will be 3,000 words or the equivalent of 15 minutes’ listening time. It will be aimed at a confident, engaged readers who are keen to dig beneath the surface of places, learn more about history and heritage and expand their understanding of places, communities, cultures and contexts. We can share more information about the audience with the successful applicant.

As well as the story itself, we would like you to work with us to provide six high quality images relating to the story and its genesis (pictures of locations, people, experiences, contemporary or historical documents) that will form part of the story’s context when it’s published and shared. We will provide access to a photographer to help with this if needed.

The creation of each of the stories will feature as the central element of a podcast, so we’d like you to take part in that recording too. You will be asked to record the story as an audio file. A 45 minute radio programme will be made about the collective endeavour too.

Finally, each story will be featured in an eBook (not for sale) to be featured on the website of English Heritage and the partners of this project.

The commission runs for up to 10 days during the course of mid- November to mid-December. During this time, you will:

– Deliver two online creative writing workshops for people from the local community in mid-November .
– Complete community based research, recording stories of those in the local community, either on the high street or in a community setting such as Weston library. These recordings should be a mix of audio recordings and written accounts.
– Write up your 3,000 story to include the contributions from the local community in an appropriate format.
– Record your short story as an audio file and share it as a written piece.

The timeline for delivery of this project is tight.

We will commission the writer by the end of the first week in November so they can start work the following week.

A first draft of the story must be ready for sharing with Literature Works on 14th December.

A final version of the story must be agreed by 21st December.

The fee for the development of the story – to include delivery of two workshops, research and documentation – is £3,000

Literature Works will pay for the hosting of the workshops and their management, any photography needed, the creation of the podcast and the production of the eBook text.

There are additional funds available to support access needs. Please tell us about any access needs you may have when you apply.

If you are interested in the commission and would like to apply, please email us:

1 .A summary creative CV outlining the creative and community work you’ve done that is relevant to this commission.

2. Tell us about your idea. What’s the approach you’d like to take to this commission? What aspect of the high street and its community in Weston super Mare intrigues you? Which stories do you suspect people would like to know more about? Which voices have not been heard? Which buildings and shops open up access to Weston super Mare’s rich past or show how it might thrive in future? Tell us about your creative approach in no more than 400 words.

3. Share with us an outline of your approach to the commission detailing your proposed methods for engagement with the place, communities and high street in Weston super Mare. We understand things are complicated at the moment and might get more so, so demonstrate your experience and ingenuity and describe how you’d go about the commission in a safe way and how and to whom you’d like to pitch the two virtual workshops that we’ll help you host to engage people and communities from Weston super Mare. This document should be no longer than 2 sides of A4.

Please email the above to info@literatureworks.org.uk by no later than 2nd November 2020, 5 pm.