All News & Features

Small earthquake in Stockton-on-Tees

on Thursday, 28 March 2013 13:04. Posted in Books and Poetry

Review of Public Lending Right Scheme results in few changes

After two years of dithering and a desultory consultation process, the Government has finally decided the fate of the Public Lending Right scheme – it will cease to be an independent agency and come under the wing of the British Library, but the office and staff in Stockton-on-Tees will carry on as before.

PLR – which pays authors 6p each time one of their books is borrowed from a public library – was an unfortunate victim of the incoming coalition government’s 'bonfire of the quangos' (which also cooked the goose of the UK Film Council, only to transfer most of its functions to the British Film Institute).

PLR Registrar Jim Parker welcomed the announcement: 'The Government realises staff here do a great job and we have had tremendous support from authors from all over the UK.' In fact the overwhelming outcome of the consultation was opposition to any change at all.

According to Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, authors should notice no change to PLR. He claimed that transferring management to the British Library will save £750,000 over 10 years.

Writers’ Guild general secretary Bernie Corbett commented: 'This whole affair has been an unnecessary charade, wasting the time and resources of authors’ organisations and the government to achieve a purely cosmetic change and a saving too small to be measurable – all for the sake of one headline over two years ago.

'In the meantime the government has done precisely nothing to extend the PLR scheme to ebooks and audiobooks, as legislated by the previous government just before the 2010 general election.'

For more information see and

Could you serve your union?

on Friday, 22 March 2013 09:54. Posted in General

Writers' Guild AGM will be on Friday 14 June

This is the time of year for Writers’ Guild members to think about motions to change the policies or rules of the union, or to put themselves forward as officers or members of the Executive Council.

There is a record number of EC vacancies to be filled this summer, both for national/regional seats and craft sector representatives, so we are hoping to see plenty of new blood coming forward. Please consider seriously whether you could contribute to the Guild in this way.

Details of the vacancies, application forms and instructions for proposing motions can be downloaded below. If you would prefer to have paper copies please contact the Guild office.

The closing date for the receipt of Officer and EC nominations is Thursday 9 May 2013 and the closing date for the receipt of AGM motions is Tuesday 14 May 2013.

The Annual General Meeting of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain will take place in London on Friday 14 June 2013. The full details are in the Notice of Meeting and Preliminary Agenda, which can also be downloaded from our website. The Final Agenda, Annual Report and Accounts will be made available shortly before the AGM, in accordance with the rules of the Guild.


Nomination forms for EC vacancies

Letter of notice re Writers' Guild AGM - includes provisional agenda and instructions for proposing motions

A lawyer’s journey into screenwriting

on Tuesday, 19 March 2013 14:00. Posted in Film

Gavin Grant explains how he took conflict resolution from the office to the screen, and won a Scottish BAFTA New Talent nomination for The State of Greenock

(Photo: Gavin Grant with actor Rowan King filming on location)

There is an acronym in corporate-lingo-jargon known as the BATNA. The letters stand for the ‘Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement’. The theory goes that whichever side in a negotiation has the better BATNA, is therefore in the stronger negotiating position, as they are less likely to settle for an unsatisfactory (albeit fully negotiated) agreement. When I first heard about the BATNA, I was a solicitor who wanted to be a screenwriter. My goal was to somehow negotiate my way to becoming a full-time, paid, screenwriter – even though I naturally assumed this was a totally unrealistic dream. In trying to maintain a level head about my career, I knew I had to work out the best alternative that would make me happy. What was my BATNA?

Back in 2009, I wrote an article for a Scottish legal magazine as part of a feature called ‘Films in Focus’, in which lawyers were asked to reveal their favourite film about the law. When I heard the magazine was running the feature, I remember being very keen to write something – anything – just to get the chance to talk about films and filmmaking. I wanted to avoid the courtroom drama and the predictable Grisham adaptation, so I plumped for the crime thriller Dirty Harry. And I got completely carried away. I effectively wrote a mini academic essay on the right-wing attitudes and ‘rule of law’ themes underpinning the film. Oops. I have always loved movies.

At that time, I was working as a solicitor with Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP. Outside of work, I had developed a growing interest in screenwriting and was attending evening classes at the University of Edinburgh. I became mildly addicted to books about the art and craft of screenwriting. I was learning about the film and TV industry, but, more importantly, I had started writing scripts.

My Theatre Matters! campaign

on Friday, 15 March 2013 20:24. Posted in Theatre

Show your support for local theatres
my theatre matters

A major campaign, My Theatre Matters!, has been launched by Equity, The Stage and the Theatrical Management Association. The campaign has grown out of concern about the threats to funding of many theatres across the UK, particularly from local government. Sheffield Theatre, for one, is facing a council cut of £100,000, only weeks after being names regional theatre of the year at the Stage 100 Awards.

The campaign aims to encourage theatres to mobilise their audiences to voice their support for their local venue and tell their own stories about why their theatre matters to them. Harnessed into a national campaign, these local voices can give real weight to the argument in support of public funding for theatre. Actors will be delivering curtain call speeches in theatres asking for support from audiences and the campaign will receive prominent and branded coverage throughout the year and will be spreading the word through social media and a dedicated website.

Latest signatories to the campaign include: Hugh Bonneville (Twenty Twelve, Downton Abbey); Kevin McKidd (Trainspotting), who with 51 Moray-based artists and arts professionals has signed an open letter to Moray Council, arguing for a rethink of the recently announced 100% cut to its arts budget; and David Haig (The Madness of George III).

David Edgar, president of the Writers' Guild, said of the campaign: 'Regional British theatre was one of the great success stories of the 2000s – particularly in its production of new plays. There’s now a real prospect of all that going to waste. Playwrights join directors, actors and other theatre-makers in defence of the network of local and regional companies which is at the heart of Britain’s great theatre achievement.'

Add your name to the list of supporters

The business of writing musicals

on Friday, 15 March 2013 20:20. Posted in Events

A free event on 18 April in London

Facilitated by writer Jenifer Toksvig, and featuring a panel of representatives from the Writers’ Guild, the Musicians’ Union and the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, this free event for writers and composers will address issues such as: acquiring rights, agents, commissions, contracts, copyright, development, optioning, percentages, productions, publishing, recordings, royalties, showcases and workshops. A representative of the Arts Council will answer writers’ questions about applying for Arts Council funding for the development of new work.

The Guild and the Musicans’ Union are running a survey in tandem with this event, the data from which will be used for the sole purpose of strengthening support for writers of musical theatre in the UK, in the continuous development of fair and reasonable guidelines for all aspects of the business. Complete the survey

6.30-9.45pm, 18 April, The Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3GA

 Doors open: 6.30pm 

Panel presentation: 7pm

Drinks and networking: 8-9.45pm

Book tickets by emailing Jenifer Toksvig: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Welsh language TV

on Sunday, 10 March 2013 17:09. Posted in Events

On March 20th at Chapter in Cardiff there will be a Welsh language special event where Guild members will be able to discuss current and future drama output on S4C with the new drama commissioner, Gwawr Martha Lloyd.

She will meet members at 8.00 pm in the committee meeting room for a question and answer session.