Norwich – a fine city for literature as national centre opens its doors
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Norwich has a new story to tell today – thanks to the launch of the National Centre for Writing.
The Fine City is already a UNESCO City of Literature and last night a new string was added to its bow as the centre opened at the Medieval Dragon Hall on King Street.
The centre has been carefully built in and around the hall, which has also been renovated during the process.
An idea first formed more than five years ago, the £2m centre will provide creative writing classes for all abilities, a platform for writers to showcase their work, an education centre for young people, and even has a residential cottage for writers.
It is hoped that the centre will help put Norwich on the map by encouraging visitors to the city.
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The launch saw a topping-out ceremony, a speech from Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent, while Luke Wright read out a poem written to mark the opening called Here, accompanied by a video.
Chris Gribble, 46, chief executive of the centre (formerly known as Writers' Centre Norwich), said: 'The evening is a thank-you to our funders, partners, the city and the county.
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'We wanted a physical place to identify us a City of Literature. Not everything national has to be in London, and that was part of the real joy of it for us.
'What will make us national is our partnerships, our development work and the ambition of what we do. We're not a membership organisation, it's a place, both real and virtual where experiments can happen, exchanges can be made and we can champion literature.
'There are so few buildings in the literature sector that we're kind of making it up as we go along, in a really nice way.'
The centre works with The Bridge organisation to give children better access to the arts.
Mr Gribble said: 'The surest indicator of improving life chances for young people is helping them read more for pleasure, everything from understanding your rights as a citizen to understanding the stories of who you are and how you got here, and your city or county.
'Norwich is good for writers partly because of the UEA, partly the fact it's culturally vibrant and cheap to live in, it's also got a 1,000 year history of people being awkward and difficult and dissenting and questioning.'