AGM 2014

September 2nd 2014.

WORD! Chair’s Report to AGM 2014.

Welcome to WORD!s AGM, 2014. Since our last AGM we have continued to see a deepening and development to our activity as an organisation. To help give clarity to this work, I have broken it down into the following areas:

Our Core WORD! Night:

Over the last year we have seen audiences for our monthly night maintained. On average, we continue to attract average audiences of circa 60-80 people, per event. Audiences are composed of a variety of people and combine ‘mainstream’ communities with those that may be more socially excluded.

Following the sustained development of LGBT related literature events in Leicester (see ‘The Broader Scene’) we have continued to enjoy the support of this community. Many thanks to Bobba Bennett, organiser of Pinnng...K! (Leicester’s leading night of metrosexual verse) for his continuing, warm assistance - attending events, sharing publicity and being kind and positive in general.

Following contact with Everybody’s Reading and The Lyric Lounge (WORD! was again one of the core partners, supporting the delivery of both festivals in 2013) we’ve seen further engagement from a number of audiences, including young people, people of BME descent, older people and people with experience of health related problems. We would like to thank new audiences from these and other communities for their contributions - which have really added to the quality and diversity of the above festivals and especially WORD!s staged events around them. We would very much like to expand on these and other new audiences.

WORD!s core night has been listed in Mslexia, Write Out Loud and numerous other print and online journals, but we would of course like to publicise ourselves more. As many will be aware, WORD! is now the longest running poetry and spoken word night in the Midlands; in October 2014 we turn 13.

Over the last year we’ve been able to provide film visuals on an irregular basis. The inconsistency of this is owing to the voluntary nature of our work, sometimes conflicting with the paid work of volunteers. We would like to thanks Keith Allott our filmmaker in residence and look forward to continuing our work together in various ways. Thanks to the continuing voluntary work of other key volunteer, Lauren Furze, who is responsible for maintaining our website - Thanks to Nathan Human who has recently begun to attend WORD! - last month taking some fabulous pictures of all performers (see: and in general being positive and supportive.

Open Mic Slots/Acts

The open mic remains as popular as ever, with people signing up to perform from 7pm and
the list always being oversubscribed.

Because of the pressure on spaces, artists are advised that the maximum time
limit for performers is 3 minutes - including any introductions.

We continue to be appreciative of people’s understanding.


Over the last 12 months we have continued to see a rise in the number of people from across the country, making contact and requesting to be programmed as booked acts - suggesting that WORD! is becoming even more established and well thought of in the UK.

We continue to programme a diverse range of booked acts, making a conscious attempt to schedule acts of varied ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation and artistic style - always seeking out the very best available poets and performers.

As the calibre of our booked acts has continued to rise, in the last year we have introduced an additional booked act slot - to showcase more locally based artists of quality, or nationally emerging artists of quality. This new booked slot allows selected artists to perform/read for 10 minutes at the end of the first half, with us adjusting the number of open mic slots in the first half to accommodate.

We hope to continue programming in this way next year and look forward to bringing you an even more diverse and engaging programme of performers.

In addition to our main regular WORD! event, we continue to programme occasional additional events. On October 3rd, 2014 - we are excited to present ‘Maria and the Mullet’ - an event with Maria Taylor and Andrew Mulletproof Poet - plus Shruti Chauhan, James Mccatear and Jitendra Bhatt. This will take place ‘Upstairs at the Western’ - we hope to continue and expand this additional series in 2015.

Projects in 2012

The Lyric Lounge

In 2013, WORD! continued it’s association with ‘The Lyric Lounge’: a site specific festival of poetry and spoken word, project managed by Writing East Midlands and artistically developed and directed by me.

Building on the festival’s success in 2009, 2010 & 2012 it again visited Leicester, taking place on National Poetry Day at The Y Theatre.

WORD! events included a WORD! birthday and celebratory event, headlined by Dalgit Nagra and Jean Binta Breeze MBE. In addition to our birthday, this October WORD! also celebrated ER (which the LL day was part of) and marked World Mental Health Month, Black History Season and of course National Poetry Day.

As part of our work on The Lyric Lounge, WORD! also continued it’s association with Showcase Smoothie - - a prestigious writing and music based project, predominantly working with young black men, with experience of mental health issues.

Showcase Smoothie’s ‘Showcase Collective’ launched an album as part of the event. The mid afternoon launch event was attended by in excess of 75 people.

Everybody’s Reading.

In 2013, WORD! was again involved as a partner on Everybody’s Reading. The festival engaged approximately 4000 people, across 73 events, at 42 different venues.

ER 2014 will take place between September 27th and October 5th. WORD! is once again a partner and in addition to providing support with programming will present a WORD! extravaganza event on Oct 2nd (National Poetry Day) - this year at the Adult Education Centre, Wellington Street.

Gallerí Gestur/Gallery Guest

Over the last year, we’ve been very happy to continue our association with the Gallerí Gestur/Gallery Guest - curated by Dr Magnus Gestsson PhD, Curator and Gallerist.

In August 2014, Magnus returned to Iceland. We would like to extend our great thanks to him for bringing Galleri Gestur to be in residence with us each month - and hope to keep in touch with him and follow his project as it develops.

Future Projects

WORD! continues to collaborate with a range of other organisations and individuals, wishing to become involved with our work. Projects for 2013, include:

1. Joined up Writing:

We are about to submit a funding bid for this project. If successful it would enable us to work with four local community groups/projects, extending 6 writing and performance sessions to each. The sessions would culminate in four 10-15 minute performances, each staged as part of WORD!‘s main monthly events throughout the year.

We would also stage twelve, two hour poetry workshops, over the space of one year - on the afternoons of our core, monthly ‘open mic night’. Each workshop would be delivered by the professional act, booked by WORD! to perform that evening. Participants would ideally share work produced as part of that night's WORD!

We would finally film each monthly WORD! event, to support a robust evaluation and create an online documentary legacy. Each participant would be able to download a short film of their performance(s) at no charge. A group of young volunteers drawn from a local community group would shadow the commissioned filmmaker, to develop filmmaking skills to support the night in the future - creating sustainability around this element - whilst enhancing their life opportunities, laying the foundation for further education, training and work.

2. WORD!s on Tour.

In addition to the above bid, we would like to work on another to fund the fuller development of WORD! This bid would fund: website development; a business plan - to look at the best longterm structure for the organisation; a WORD! anthology - and finally 4 - 5 ‘WORD! Presents..’ events per year. With this latter we would look to programme several previously programmed acts (per event) to return and perform as a showcase - with a local act joining each showcase to support. Each trio of acts would come from the same location. This bid is currently in development.

The Broader Local Scene

Over the last year we have been excited to see the consolidation of three other regular poetry nights: ‘Pinggg...K!’, The Ninearches Press/Crystal Clear ‘Shindig’ and ‘Find the Right Words.’

‘Pinggg...K!’, developed, organised and run by Bobba Bennett is sister night to WORD! It takes place on the last Tuesday of every month, at The Red Tent on Pocklingtons Walk and has quickly established itself as Leicester’s leading night of ‘Metrosexual’ verse.

‘Find the Right Words’, is a new night in Leicester run over Spring, Autumn and Winter by locally based poet, Jess Green. It specialises in performance poetry and rap and is currently based Upstairs at The Western. The night combined two full headline act sets with 10 open mic slots.

Ninearches’ ‘Shindig’, takes place on a regular basis at The Western Pub. It combines an
open mic with several booked act slots. It is run by Nine Arches’ Editor, Jane Commane.

We are keen to continue supporting and promoting the good work of these above nights/organisations and take their emergence/resurgence as evidence for Leicester’s growing presence on the national poetry scene.

Venue and Ticket Price

Over the last year we have been working around growing financial constraints, to make WORD! activities more sustainable.

As members of the WORD! community will be aware, we currently run as an entirely voluntary organisation. We receive no regular funding and run entirely on our main night’s ticket price. Prior to this year, this had begun to create some difficulties as the cost of acts (fees, travel and accommodation) outstripped the money taken on the door each month. This is despite the large audiences attending - in part due to our decision to keep our ticket prices so low, in order to enable the widest participation.

Changes made in 2012 included raising our main night’s entry price to £3/£4 (from £2/£3). This entry fee is still substantially lower then most nights of a comparable nature and still does not always cover act related running costs.

One problem we have occasionally noted is that of some audience members forgetting to purchase a ticket, or coming in at the interval or during the second half without a ticket, possibly thinking that it was only necessary to purchase one if they were attending for the whole event. Unfortunately this is not the case and does directly effect our financial viability. For us to keep running it is vital that everyone attending purchases a ticket.

We would like to thank the WORD! audience for it’s continued support and patronage, especially in these difficult financial times.

We would also like to thank The Y Theatre for their continuing support.

The WORD! Team

WORD!’s voluntary organisation committee is made up as follows:

Lydia Towsey: Chair
Tim Sayers: Treasurer
Richard Byrt and Pam Thompson: Joint Secretary

In addition to our voluntary organisation committee members, we also continue to receive the invaluable voluntary support of Stephanie Fawcett and Lauren Furze. In 2014 we have also received some support from John Kitchen and Graham Norman.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone on the WORD! team, who has made everything we do possible.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. It has been a pleasure to continue the Chairing and compering of WORD! in 2013/14. I wish all of you the best for the next year.

WORD! is a registered voluntary organisation.

We would like to send our sincerest thanks to all the organisations and people who have helped us over the last 12 months, we can’t and wouldn’t like to list you all by name, you know who you are!

And of course, a big thank you to those of you who have attended our AGM.

All Best,

Lydia Towsey
Chair/Compere, WORD!

Photographs - courtesy of Nathan Human (