The Word: National Centre for the Written Word, situated in South Shields town centre, is a new cultural venue encouraging individuals to be inspired, absorbed and simultaneously educated. The remarkably beautiful and award winning innovation brands itself a home for North East writers gaining over 2000 visitors in the first six months following opening. Offering culture, knowledge and a whole host of language and literature related activities, I met with Head of Marketing and Communications at South Tyneside Council Tania Robinson, to get the low down on the stunning new institution to find out what really makes The Word worth a visit.
The futuristic centre is a hyper-modern library that offers a community spot attracting those not just from around the country, but around the world. Aside from its stunning architecture, The Word brings together a very memorable and unique 21st century library. Making my way around the captivating venue, the purity and dedication to written word is illustrated through it’s décor, staff and activities; ranging from ‘Tiny Tots’ on a morning right through to the ladies that meet on a Friday as part of the matting group! It really is a place that offers something to everyone. A huge customer loyalty has been built by the consistent quality and sustainable engagement of every element within the library. Although the physical layout of the building sees each floor appealing to a different age range and purpose, Tania explains that this does not isolate individuals and families will come in and generally explore every aspect together.
One of the biggest attractions at The Word is the top quality exhibition programmes they have on offer, changing throughout the year. A dedication to Ridley Scott was the first exhibition showcased, a presentation I found to be extremely authentic, gripping and a real attraction to the venue. Signed off by the man himself, Scott revealed he was ‘humbled and proud’ of what The Word had created. The exhibition generated fantastic feedback from visitors, inspiring the continuation of such sought after content and the reason that there will always be an interesting and unique display programme featuring at any point. Their current and newest exhibition named ‘Shiver Me Timbers’ is an exhibition highly appropriate to all ages that celebrates Pirates, an interactive display of the finest quality. Maintaining educational and relevant, it explores content from Daniel Defoe, the first person to write about pirates right through to the modern day writers, and touches on the Pirates of The Caribbean films, forming a sincerely fun and must-visit exhibition for all ages!
A huge event hosted by The Word is the ‘WRITE Festival’ taking place June 20 – 25, offering a chance for individuals to be inspired and write alongside a host of award-winning writers who will feature during the five days of unmissable events utterly dedicated to the written word. Different activities will be hosted featuring elements of comedy, performance and a huge devotion to showcasing imagination. Appealing to all ages, the festival will feature acclaimed writer and comedian Jason Cook, award-winning duo Mark Billingham and Chris Brookmyre, playwright, screenwriter and author Michael Chaplin and stand-up poet Kate Fox. Primarily aimed at budding writers, the festival also aims to capture those with a general interest in the subject or those who write in their spare time or perhaps never get a chance to. Poetry competitions and slams will be a great attraction in which entrants will improvise in 30 second slots and the audience will then vote until a winner is announced, an element which Tania explains is great fun and something different. There will be poetry exchanges, silent discos, history wardrobes and that’s just to name a few! A festival really worth travelling for. The most gripping part of the festival is that different life experiences are shared and the community spirit is undoubtedly maintained.
There are a number of ways in which businesses can get involved with The Word, whether it be funding or simply using the venue. Opening soon, an area dedicated to meetings, training sessions, workshops and conferences will be available to hire. The amazing space offers spectacular views over the River Tyne and is an interesting venue to bring guests, holding over 150 people theatre style. If businesses or corporate individuals are looking for a more direct involvement, opportunities for patrons and corporate membership are available to support The Word. This is a fantastic opportunity to support local talent and as part of this, individuals would be invited to the events and see the prosperous results of their funding.
Libraries are such important community spaces and are often not credited enough for what they offer. The Word especially grabs the authenticity of what a library aims to do and the dedication to the written word and real the passion for this community space shone through when discussing the institution with someone who knows it very well. This was reaffirmed creatively and continuously throughout the building, giving this place for me a real edge on any other library and community space I have visited.
The Word: National Centre for the Written Word
0191 427 1818