History of WoW

Writing on the Wall was born from discussions amongst a number of people involved in creating the film ‘Dockers’ (Channel 4, 1999), about a dispute involving a lock-out of 500 Liverpool Dockers. With support from Liverpool John Moores University, WoW began as a Millennium Project which focused on the delivery of a week-long festival of events, held in June each year, those involved in the organisation in the early days were taken aback by the wealth of untapped creativity that they saw within the communities they engaged with.
By 2002, the organisation had outgrown its origins as a working team within LJMU, and took the decision to form a charity independent of the University. With no employees, and relying entirely upon the voluntary activities of trustees, advisors and volunteers, Writing on the Wall’s first steps as an autonomous body were tentative. However, it soon became apparent that the organisation was taking a very different approach to the promotion of writing than traditional literature organisations, and was rewarded for doing so by attracting funding from Arts Council England, Liverpool City Council, and a range of other public-sector and charitable bodies. What attracted these organisations to Writing on the Wall was an agenda that focussed on social inclusion, which emphasised the positive benefits of reading, writing and debate on marginalised and excluded communities. From community cohesion to lifelong health benefits, Writing on the Wall believes that words have the power to improve people’s lives and change for the better the communities in which we all live and work.
During this period, Writing on the Wall began to attract plaudits for organising a festival that took writing into local communities. From community centres in Netherton to libraries in Speke, and all points between, Writing on the Wall worked with schoolchildren and the elderly, with black and minority ethnic groups, and with disabled and other excluded groups to ensure that Liverpool’s ‘cultural offer’ was broad enough to include the creative work of all of Liverpool, and not just the esteemed publications of a narrowly defined elite. Writing on the Wall also developed a reputation as an organisation willing to work in partnership with those who shared the organisation’s goals and ethos. Since our formation, we have worked in partnership with primary and secondary schools, housing associations, local film and TV production companies, Health Action Zones, prisons, women’s refuges and advice centres, youth organisations, community theatres and other not-for-profit organisations such as Apples and Snakes, CommonWord, The Kuumba Imani Centre, North End Writers, The Reader Organisation, Liverpool City Libraries, the Workers Education Association and The Big Issue.
As well as organising public events as part of an annual festival, the late 2000s saw the organisation branch out into year-long creative projects, in particular filmmaking in schools and other creative youth work. Once Writing on the Wall had sold-out The Empire Theatre with thousands attending screenings of films scripted, produced and edited entirely by schoolchildren, the organisation began to realise that it had outgrown its voluntary base, and began to source funding for a full-time festival coordinator. This search for funding was successful, and in 2006 Writing on the Wall gained a permanent, part-time co-ordinator, Madeline Heneghan, who is now the organisations’ full-time Director. WoW now has a Project Manager and support from a strong volunteer base.
In recent years, with the relative security of a number of different funding streams, the organisation began to consolidate its work around six thematic ‘strands’.

  • New Writing 
  • Young Writers
  • Hidden Histories
  • Radical Writing
  • Linking Communities
  • Empowering Women 
Writing on the Wall continues to organise an annual festival, which has expanded from a handful of events during one week in 2000, to around 30 events each year during the month of May. At other points during the year WoW organises one-off events and writing development workshops, including our Liverpool Young Writers project (shortlisted for a Music of Black Origin Community Award in 2010), Pulp Idol (our longstanding free-to-enter competition for aspiring novelists, which has showcased the work of over 200 unpublished writers), Rebel Rants (a quarterly signature event designed to provoke debate on topical issues of the day), and a range of community based book clubs.

Contact WoW

Address:  Toxteth Library, Windsor Street, Liverpool, L8 1TH
Map: Click Here for our location page

Tel:  0151 703 0020

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