Chris Gribble leaves NCW after 17 years of ‘unprecedented growth and success’
NCW’s CEO will leave his post in September 2023

Chris Gribble, CEO of National Centre for Writing, will be leaving his post in September 2023 after 17 years of growth, transformation, and achievement. He will take up the post of CEO of The Forum Trust in October, replacing retiring CEO Tim Bishop.

We are delighted for Chris’ next chapter but very sad to see him go. Chris moved to Norwich in 2006 to join the organisation under its original name of New Writing Partnership. Beginning as a small, regional start-up of three staff, he has steered the team through an extraordinary period of evolution which saw us develop into Writers’ Centre Norwich, the literature development agency for the East of England, and then National Centre for Writing: a national and international hub of creativity which supports early-career writers and literary translators and invites individuals and communities to explore and celebrate the power of creative writing.

Chris said:

‘Leading the growth and development of NCW over recent years has been a huge privilege and enormous fun. The NCW team and our partners have always ensured that the challenges we’ve faced have been ultimately surmountable and I feel very lucky to have worked in such an amazing city, region and sector. I have always been passionate about the ways in which words and stories can change lives, and this role has given me unparalleled opportunities to explore this passion in projects that have stretched from intimate partnerships with local communities in Norwich to global partnerships with British Council and Arts Council England. I am looking forward to taking this commitment into my next exciting role and seeing the next chapter of National Centre for Writing as it develops.’

Chris and the team led the bid for Norwich to become England’s first UNESCO City of Literature, only the sixth in the world at that time and now one of UNESCO’s 42 Cities of Literature worldwide. He also led the £3.2m capital development of NCW’s physical home at Dragon Hall in 2018, which saw Patrons Nobel laureate JM Coetzee, Margaret Atwood, Rose Tremain, Ali Smith, Professor Kei Miller, Elif Shafak, Jon McGregor, John Boyne, Anthony Horowitz and Sarah Perry – all attendees of NCW events and visitors to Norwich over the years – pledge their support for NCW’s work.

Chris has championed the work of local writers and artists and worked tirelessly to secure the future success of arts and culture in the East of England, including the delivery of a four-year project to support the development and diversification of the next generation of arts leaders in Norfolk and Suffolk in partnership with Arts Council England, New Anglia LEP, UEA, Norfolk County Council and Suffolk County Council.

He has also brought NCW’s work to the global stage; building long-term, ongoing partnerships with, among others, British Council, Arts Council Korea, National Arts Council Singapore and partners in India, Japan, Myanmar, the US and across Europe, to support the development of literary translation and best practice in writer development internationally.

Alan Waters, Chair of the NCW Board and Leader of Norwich City Council said:

‘Chris has done a magnificent job of putting stories, literature and writing at the heart of Norwich’s cultural identity and putting Norwich on the map globally as a centre of literary exchange and excellence. We are pleased he will be remaining in the city and are excited to welcome his successor to NCW later in the year to carry on telling NCW’s story.’

Sarah Crown, Director of Literature for Arts Council England, added:

‘NCW is a critical part of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio of arts organisations and Chris has done a brilliant job of leading his team and the wider stakeholders and partners over recent years.’

Professor Sarah Barrow, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Arts and Humanities at University of East Anglia and NCW Board Member, said:

‘UEA has been a core stakeholder in NCW since its inception and we are as proud to have been part of its past as we are to be part of its future. As the home of Creative Writing in the UK, UEA understands the vital role writers and literary translators play in our creative, cultural and economic lives and support the outstanding work NCW does and local, regional, national and international levels.’

Cllr Margaret Dewsbury, Chairman of the Communities Committee for Norfolk County Council, said:

‘NCW plays a critical role in the cultural and social life of our county and Norfolk County Council has been proud to support Chris and his team delivering for the people who live here, work here and visit here in a range of projects, partnerships and initiatives over many years. We’re looking forward to welcoming a new leader to NCW in the autumn and carrying on our partnership.’

NCW will be recruiting Chris Gribble’s replacement over the coming weeks.

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