The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham

Jen Ridding, 16.06.2014
The Barber Institute of Fine Arts is in its third year of hosting a writer-in-residence.  As a gallery on the University of Birmingham campus, we offer writers the chance to explore inter-disciplinary ways of engaging different departments across campus and create new readings of our collection.

Our 2013-14 writer was Jacqui Rowe, who spent a year in our galleries creating new work inspired by the collection. Jacqui is local so brought with her access to invaluable contacts and networks.  

Writing is now a permanent fixture across our public programme. For example, post-residency we have employed Jacqui to deliver regular adult writing workshops inspired by the collection.  We now have a growing reputation for delivering writing workshops and events, and have developed a loyal audience base.

Keys to success:    

  • Working with our local literature development agency Writing West Midlands, which supported us in planning, recruitment and publicity.
  • Knowing what the residency is seeking to achieve and reflecting that in the brief.
  • Being clear on what is expected from the writer, clarifying what is expected in public programme delivery, marketing, advocacy and evaluation as well as creative output.
  • We run a rolling residency, so it is important to think about how each residency can forge its own identity.
  • Thinking about how the residency can address one or more of our current audience development/strategic goals.
We are working with Writing West Midlands to recruit the 2014-15 writer-in-residence. It is essential not to set out to recreate Jacqui’s residency, as each residency must have its own identity, along with its own set of aims and objectives, from the outset.  

Jen Ridding is the learning and access officer at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts

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