Tuesday, 25 October 2016

The Word, The National Centre For The Written Word on Front Row

In times of major cuts to funding for the arts and culture, listening to Monday night's Front Row on BBC Radio 4 was a welcome treat as it reported on a new cultural venue located in South Tyneside. Last week marked the opening of The Word, The National Centre For The Written Word in South Shields.


"The Word forms the centrepiece of the £100 million regeneration of South Shields Town Centre. The building is brimming with exciting new experiences, activities and facilities for people of all ages to engage and enjoy, from a digital media wall and FabLab to an immersive storytelling experience and interactive touch-tables. The building will also be home to 70,000 books and OpenZone which provides digital learning and ICT to schools.

At its core The Word will celebrate the written word in all its forms through a rolling programme of events, exhibitions and workshops."

It is also a celebration of the spoken word, and there is the opportunity for visitors to add to an archive of dialect and language by writing down any words they are aware of but that are not necessarily widely known.

The building itself is stunning.

"The external appearance of The Word has been strongly influenced by the industrial heritage of South Shields with salt panning, coal mining, glass making and ship building all informing the material choices.

FaulknerBrowns Architects, who developed the design concept, likened the facade to fanning out the pages in a book with the entrance overlooking the Market Place being book-ended by two vertical spine walls. This allows the benefit of fantastic views both into and out from the building at key locations."

The main exhibition at the moment "celebrates the career and achievements of Sir Ridley Scott. Featuring a timeline of his life and movies, and focusing on six of his most famous titles including Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise, Gladiator, Robin Hood and one of his more recent movies The Martian, the main exhibition is intended as an affectionate overview of his life in film. Aimed at both visitors who are perhaps only familiar with the movie titles, to passionate fans of his work, the content uses facts, stories and vivid imagery to bring to life the world of Sir Ridley’s movies with a real ‘wow’ factor."

I am looking forward to paying a visit to what sounds like a venue that importantly values words in their various forms.

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