Swindon Arts Company saved by grant - launches exciting creative project for young people

By Jamie Hill - 11 June 2020

Arts and CultureBusiness

Digital Writes offers a fantastic opportunity to take part in a project to write, illustrate and then publish an interactive fantasy novel.

  • Digital Arts Tutor Keira Georgeson

    Digital Arts Tutor Keira Georgeson

Back in March, when all the schools and youth clubs closed, arts education company Digital Writes, suddenly found itself on the verge of shutting down.

However, thanks to one of the Arts Council’s Covid Emergency Grants, they’ve been able to step back from the brink and find innovative new ways to deliver the same quality creative experiences.

Keith Phillips, founding member of Digital Writes said, “We were delighted when we heard we’d secured this grant from the Arts Council. As the country went into lockdown all our projects were put on hold, leaving dozens of children and young people unable to see the results of the amazing work they’d done with us over the last year. It was really disappointing. But now it’s like a rebirth. Thanks to the continued generosity of National Lottery players, we’re thrilled to be back up and running.”

Their first lockdown project, Immersive Authorship, will see young people collaborate to write an illustrated, interactive fantasy novel, which they’ll publish in print format and as an app. The printed book will be available to buy through Amazon and we hope to stock copies in secondary schools and public libraries. The app will be available on all the usual video game platforms.

Participants will take part in virtual workshops in storytelling, creative writing, and illustration, using a secure video conferencing platform. Once they’ve finished their book, they'll celebrate their achievements with a snazzy public book launch event.

Keith Phillips, author on Fighting Fantasy (Puffin's cult classic gamebook series) has already been working with students from Lydiard Park Academy, who said “We want to do a project where we make the decisions, and we want to work with people as keen on fantasy stories as we are.” It’s this sentiment that inspired Digital Writes to devise this project.

When asked why they chose the fantasy genre, Lauren said, “With fantasy you can do whatever you want - there’s not much limitation to it - you can use things like magic and just go completely wild!” Some of them have ambitions to become writers or artists, and are thrilled they’re going to be working with professionals. They’re also very excited at the prospect of seeing their work in print. “We already write and draw things but nothing comes out of it. It would be cool to see our book in the library and see other people enjoying what we’ve made.”

Without this project, they say, “we wouldn't have any chance to be part of producing a full sized book.”

Workshop leader and visual artist Keira Georgeson said, “We want them to genuinely feel that they're proper authors writing a proper book. And we want them to feel the excitement of going into a public library and seeing their book on the shelf. Everyone’s welcome. All you need is your imagination and a love of fantasy, whether that’s in books, films, or video games. ”

Participants will start by developing the main characters and the overarching story. They'll generate ideas and pass them from group to group, critiquing, adding new ideas, and suggesting edits, until the final story is outlined. Each group will then work on a chapter to create scenes, write content, and draw illustrations. They'll proofread and edit each other's chapters before getting the finished book printed.

Journalism student and Digital Writes publicist, Ben said; “Lockdown, as everyone knows, is so boring it’s ridiculous! However, this amazing project will enable young people to forget the constraints of their homes for a short while and immerse themselves in the world of fantasy and imagination. Whilst their children are occupied, parents will be able to sit back and take a break from homeschooling, and allow the Digital Writes team to deliver one of their amazing experiences online. 

To get involved and secure your place on this unique programme, type “immersive authorship” into your favourite search engine or look for Digital Writes on social media.


Instagram: @digital_writes

Facebook: facebook.com/digitalwrites/

Twitter: @digital_writes

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