Poet in Residence Wanted

Deadline: 23/02/2020  |  Published: 17/01/2020  |  Venue: St Albans Cathedral  |  City: St Albans, Hertfordshire  |  Region: Hertfordshire  |  Country: United Kingdom  |  Lindsay Wong

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St Albans Cathedral is inviting applications for a year-long residency for a poet with experience in community engagement. This is a unique opportunity for a poet to run poetry/creative writing workshops for target audiences to diversify our current visitors at the Cathedral and create a commission inspired by this magnificent building with the opportunity of readings for the public.

About the Cathedral

St Albans Cathedral is the number one tourist destination in St Albans and attracts over 200,000 visitors per year from the UK and abroad. It hosts hundreds of events and services throughout the year.

It is the mother church of the Diocese of St Albans which serves the people of Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, the Borough of Luton and parts of the London Borough of Barnet, Cambridgeshire and Buckinghamshire. The Cathedral has played a significant role in history through the ages. 

It is the oldest site of continuous Christian worship in Britain and stands on the site where Britain’s first Saint, Alban, was martyred and buried after giving his life for his faith over 1,700 years ago. It still houses the shrine of St Alban and is a major site of Christian pilgrimage to this day.

The Cathedral architecture is a blend of many different periods, with Anglo-Saxon features dating back to King Offa’s church, founded on the site in 793. Work started on the current church building in 1077; it was the largest building in the country at the time. Its great Norman tower and nave were built using Roman bricks salvaged from the ruins of Verulamium. The Benedictine monastery was dissolved in 1539 and the Abbey church was bought by the townspeople to become the parish church, which it remains today. The Victorians undertook a major restoration and it became a cathedral in 1877. It is in this dual role of a parish and cathedral church that it is a centre of worship and mission with a high local and national profile. There is a large and active congregation (some 1500 strong).

The Magna Carta, arguably the most important historical document in the world, began its journey here, back in 1213 when the Abbey was the setting for the first meeting to discuss the creation of the document that was subsequently sealed in 1215.

The Cathedral’s musical tradition is renowned throughout the world, especially through the biennial International Organ Festival – the most prestigious organ competition in Europe; the Cathedral and the cathedral organ are the centrepieces of the festival.

There is a very active Learning Department including an award winning Education Centre hosting visits from over 14,000 school children each year and a successful Adult Learning programme. Ecumenical links are strong with honorary chaplains from the Roman Catholic, Free Church, Lutheran and Russian Orthodox traditions regularly conducting services at the Cathedral for their congregations.

The work of the Cathedral is sustained by over 30 full and part-time staff and some 700 volunteers. The Cathedral is also supported by a number of independent trusts and bodies. Some are concerned with raising funds for a particular aspect of the Cathedral’s life, others finance and manage functions in support of the Cathedral’s mission. The Fraternity of Friends of St Albans Abbey organise a range of social and cultural events raising funds to support different aspects of Cathedral life.

Further information about the Cathedral can be found on our website: www.stalbanscathedral.org

Mission Statement

St Albans Cathedral exists to glorify God and, inspired by the witness of Alban, proclaim Christ’s message of love.

Our Mission is to:

  • be a community that reflects Jesus’ teaching
  • share the faith and grow in faith
  • deepen our unity with fellow Christians
  • stand with St Alban for truth and justice
  • offer a warm welcome to all
  • serve the Bishop and Diocese of St Albans as their Cathedral Church
  • enhance, conserve and develop this holy place


Job Description

St Albans Cathedral is inviting applications for a year-long residency for a poet with experience in community engagement. The Cathedral is in the middle of a £7-million major development project, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which will reveal the importance of Britain’s first saint, Alban, and raise the profile of the Cathedral built in his honour.

This is a unique opportunity for a poet to:

  • run poetry/creative writing workshops for target audiences (families, community groups, schools, adults, SEND groups, or the congregation) that will diversify our current visitors at the Cathedral
  • create a commission (written or performance poetry) inspired by St Albans Cathedral, with the opportunity of readings for the public


In a recent rebranding exercise, the following key statements were made which we believe encapsulate the essence of this place and how we communicate its identity:

  • The place has open arms – it’s famously inclusive
  • It is alive – it embraces you
  • It is warm and welcoming
  • There is a genuine sense of community
  • It is very much about the people – a living breathing space
  • It must be about Alban – he is a real (iconic) figure


There is no specific theme for this residency, but we would expect the successful candidate to engage with visitors in a number of writing workshops throughout the year and draw inspiration from our values and the building to increase understanding of St Albans Cathedral history and its place in the local and national landscape.

Timings of the workshops will be decided with the appointed artist but we would like it if they could be linked to large-scale events in the Cathedral calendar, including our medieval-themed summer festival and pilgrimage, the 75th anniversary of World War II, or church holidays.

The appointed artist will be managed day-to-day by the Community Engagement Officer but will also report to a panel who will help to monitor their progress throughout the year. The artist will be required to write short progress reports throughout the course of their residency.

Artist Residents will be offered:

  • a residency of negotiable length throughout 2020
  • a professional fee of £3250, which is to cover 75 hours’ work and travel fees throughout 2020
  • additional budget of up to £750 for all associated resource materials
  • supported access to the Cathedral building and its archive
  • publicity and promotion via the Cathedral’s communication and social media channels
  • support in engaging with Cathedral groups, its congregation and the local community
  • flexible working hours
  • a beautiful Cathedral setting


This residency is anticipated to be flexible, and we will work with the selected artist to identify specific needs according to their proposal.

Person Specification

To fulfil the responsibilities of the post, the Cathedral is looking to appoint someone who has/is:

  • permission to work in the UK
  • a valid DBS certificate
  • past experience working with families and other community groups
  • experience of successfully working collaboratively with diverse community groups
  • interest in working collaboratively with staff, volunteers and the public
  • confidence interacting with different groups of people
  • ability to work independently
  • willing to take part in evaluation during and after the residency
  • sympathy to the mission of the Cathedral and a sensitivity to its heritage and religious setting


Recruitment process

To apply for this opportunity, please supply:

  • A short statement (maximum 500 words) of why you are interested in this opportunity, your previous experience, and what you would offer as our Poet in Residence. This should include: your suggestions of how you would engage with the community, your ideas for workshops with the targeted audiences, and an outline of your suggested timeframe.
  • A summary CV
  • Up to 5 examples of your work or links to website content. Feel free to include a short text for each work (50 words).


Shortlisted candidates will be contacted by Thursday 27 February and invited to take part in an interview on Wednesday 4 March. At the interview you will be invited to make a short presentation (maximum 10 minutes long) to expand on your proposal for this residency. It should include how you plan to engage the various target audiences as well as examples of activities that will engage both large-scale and smaller audiences. 

 

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What is the person specification for this role?
To fulfil the responsibilities of the post, the Cathedral is looking to appoint someone who has/is:
- permission to work in the UK;
- a valid DBS certificate;
- past experience working with families and other community groups;
- experience of successfully working collaboratively with diverse community groups;
- interest in working collaboratively with staff, volunteers and the public;
- confidence interacting with different groups of people;
- ability to work independently;
- willing to take part in evaluation during and after the residency;
- sympathy to the mission of the Cathedral and a sensitivity to its heritage and religious setting
When is the deadline?
Please send completed applications by midnight on Sunday 23 February 2020.
When is the delivery date?
The residency will take place throughout 2020. Timings of the workshops will be decided with the appointed artist but we would like it if they could be linked to large-scale events in the Cathedral calendar, including our medieval-themed summer festival and pilgrimage, the 75th anniversary of World War II, or church holidays.
Are there payments to artists?
Artists will be paid a professional fee of £3250 which is to cover 75 hours' work and travel fees. An additional budget of £750 will be paid for all associated resource material.
Does the location have disabled access?
Yes.
What publicity will be provided as part of the opportunity?
Publicity and promotion will be via the Cathedral's communication and social media channels.
Do I need to be present?
The residency is flexible and only requires the artist to be onsite to facilitate the workshops and for any research they may want to conduct.
What happens if my proposal is chosen?
Shortlisted candidates will be contacted by Thursday 27 February and invited to take part in an interview on Wednesday 4 March. At the interview you will be invited to make a short presentation (maximum 10 minutes long) to expand on your proposal for this residency. It should include how you plan to engage the various target audiences as well as examples of activities that will engage both large-scale and smaller audiences.
What kind of proposals are you looking for?
We are looking for proposals that show how the successful candidate would engage with visitors in a number of writing workshops throughout the year and draw inspiration from our values and the building to increase understanding of St Albans Cathedral history and its place in the local and national landscape.

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