Ruth Borthwick announces her departure

08 Nov 2018 / Chief Executive

Arvon today announces that Ruth Borthwick will step down in April 2019, after a decade as Artistic Director and Chief Executive. Ruth joined Arvon in January 2009. She was appointed an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in June 2018.

During Borthwick’s tenure at Arvon, she has directed ten artistic seasons of Arvon’s renowned creative writing courses at its three rural writing houses in England.

One of the most significant achievements during her tenure was the planning, fundraising for and completion of a major capital development project completed in 2014 at The Hurst in Shropshire, playwright John Osborne’s former home. The first aim was to renovate the dilapidated Grade II-listed Regency villa and refurbish it for writers to work together in a space fit for 21st century living. It is the largest arts centre in the country heated by ground-source heat pumps. This was followed two years later by the re-design and refurbishment of a building in the grounds, The Clockhouse, as a new retreat space offering self-contained apartments for up to four writers. Located in gloriously revived gardens, both facilities have reinforced Arvon’s role as a home for creative writing.

During Borthwick’s tenure, diversity and access for young people have remained priorities. The demographics of people attending courses, tutors teaching and those benefiting from Arvon’s outreach work across the country have all seen significant improvements, especially in respect of BAME tutors (30% of all tutors in 2017) and attendance on Arvon courses by BAME writers and writers with a disability.

Over the ten years Arvon has developed its work with young people to a point where it was awarded an Arts Council England research grant for a study of the effects of its work on children in the classroom, particularly in disadvantaged areas. This research project, ‘Teachers as Writers’, was partnered by the Open University and the University of Exeter, and our work with teachers has engaged over 100 teachers in residential workshops, with the result that 5000 pupils have benefitted from enhanced teacher practice.

Ruth Borthwick says:

‘It has been a privilege to lead Arvon over the past ten years. Arvon is unique in the world of creative writing in that it exists outside the academy and not only believes that creative writing can benefit anyone, but actively encourages adults and children from all parts of society to step away from their routines and be inspired by great writers and beautiful places to unlock their imaginative potential. In a world where testing and competition infect every part of life, Arvon refreshes and inspires. I have learnt so much from working with the generous and passionate Arvon team and I want to thank them all – staff and writers, trustees, creative collaborators and supportive funders, especially Arts Council England, and, in particular, the thousands who come away to our writing houses trusting that we will hold them as they take the plunge into their imagination.

‘I believe that after ten years in the job it is now time for a new generation to take the helm and lead Arvon in to the next decade. I look forward to seeing how Arvon will continue to adapt and grow in its support of writers who have new stories to tell.’

Jeremy Treglown, Chair of Trustees says:

‘Ruth’s dedication, firm leadership and vision have brought Arvon to a position of financial stability and enhanced reputation. Literally thousands of people owe her a debt for her role in their being helped to express their experiences and imaginings in written words.

‘On behalf of the Board I want to express much gratitude for a wonderful ten years and wish her all the best with her future projects.

‘Following on from the successful events to celebrate Arvon’s 50th year, the team looks forward to finding a new Chief Executive who will lead the charity, building on Ruth’s legacy.’

The search for Ruth Borthwick’s successor  as Chief Executive and Artistic Director will be handled by Heather Newill at AEM International: Details and how to apply can be found here.


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