What follows are the notes of the discussion which took place at "Putting the heart back into the arts in Sutton" on Saturday 7th April 2018

Sutton’s Arts scene has been fairly static for a number of years with a historically dysfunctional relationship between the arts sector and the local authority, inhibiting opportunities for growth.

In the last two years Arts Network Sutton has begun to break down barriers and facilitate the development of a more active and inclusive arts community in Sutton. The emergence of community-led initiatives such as Carshalton Artists Open Studio, Wallington Music Festival and Words Aloud, suggests a disruption to the old paternalistic dynamic. Green shoots are emerging at grass roots level across a number of disciplines.

Although Sutton Writers Circle has existed successfully for many years, and there are established book clubs, reading groups and Friends Groups in many of the borough’s libraries, there isn’t yet a visible network amongst the literary community or any shared cohesion of purpose. All of which suggests the time for change is ripe.

The Opportunity
At a recent Devoted and Disgruntled event hosted by ANS a small group of individuals with an interest in the written (and spoken) word came together in a brief workshop session to consider the possibility of organising a literary/book event in Sutton.

• Jane Davis - a published writer and local author, with a comprehensive knowledge of the literary world, including the world of self-publishing
• Rachel Sambrooks – poet, writer, performer, stand up and community facilitator
• Ann Pattison – long time member and former Chair of Sutton Writers Circle
• Isabel New – Link Governor for English at Barrow Hedges Primary School and Membership Development Secretary for the Friends of Wallington Library
• Marian James – local councillor and trustee for the James Trust
• Lisa Dolores (??????) - not sure if this is her name

We explored the relative viability of Book Fairs and Book or Literary Festivals. Jane explained the fundamental difference concerns funding. Book Fairs (from a writer’s perspective) are primarily concerned with selling books, whereas Book or Literary Festivals involve writers being paid for their contributions. A Book or Literary Festival therefore requires more available funding initially, but might be more attractive to a greater number of people.

Other areas of discussion were:-

• The availability (or not) of suitable venues
• A theme, focus or identity for the event (Sutton is perceived as lacking a clear identity)
• Sources of funding, grants and sponsorship (e.g. GLA Grass Roots Fund, ANS, LB Sutton local committees, Friends of Libraries groups, Arts Council, Reed
Publishing, Waterstones)
• Sutton’s literary connections (not yet clearly defined)
• Networking: identifying book clubs, reading groups and other interested or likely-to-be supportive groups
• Research other Festivals (Wimbledon, Guildford, Epsom and Croydon all have established events)
• Timing : we agreed to allow sufficient time to research, plan, and network and build momentum
• Scale – to pilot a small event in 2019 and see how it could be built on/developed
• Marketing – need for effective social media; importance of marketing and promotion
• Timing: we discussed the possibility of dovetailing with Wallington Music Festival

Next Steps
Isabel: type up notes and circulate, and file report on Devoted and Disgruntled website
Jane: identify book clubs/level of interest/research who already doing this/sourcing/finding authors
Ann: talk to Sutton Writers Circle
Rachel: host Words Aloud – building contacts and interest, research and network at her writers retreat
Marian: talk to Wallington Arms Book Club
All: share information by e-mail