Seven Stories celebrates 10th birthday at House of Commons.

Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books, is celebrating its 10th birthday with authors, illustrators, publishers and politicians at the House of Commons on 23rd November 2015. The reception is hosted by the Tyneside charity’s MP, Nick Brown, a long standing admirer of Seven Stories’ work, and speakers Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair of Arts Council England, and children’s author and playwright David Wood OBE.

The purpose of this prestigious event is to highlight Seven Stories’ singular contribution to protecting Britain's outstanding children’s literature tradition, and championing the essential part it plays in children’s culture and reading lives. In doing so, Seven Stories will launch its first publication, Drawn from the Archive, an engaging exploration of the museum’s illustration collections, written by its Collection Director, Sarah Lawrance.

Despite British children’s books being the envy of the world, in the 1990s its literary heritage was disappearing into collections overseas. This inspired Seven Stories’ to be founded with the mission of ensuring that these precious materials remain in Britain, raising the status of children’s literature, it’s essential role in childhood, and in our cultural and economic life. Within 10 years of opening its museum in Newcastle upon Tyne, Seven Stories has built an internationally acclaimed archive. It curates and stages immersive exhibitions, lively events and shows, schools and community programmes and research projects.

"Seven Stories is an extraordinary organisation, and I am very proud that it sprang from an idea born on Tyneside and set up in my constituency. Its mission really counts here, involving with children and young people who live in some of the most disadvantaged wards in the UK,” says Nick Brown MP. “As well as serving the people of the Northeast, Seven Stories attracts thousands of visitors from across the UK, and the world, simply because there is nowhere else like it. Seven Stories is a tremendous asset for the Northeast and the nation."

Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair, Arts Council England said, “I am delighted to join in with the celebrations for Seven Stories’ 10th birthday. It is a key organisation in the preservation of children’s literature and in encouraging each new generation to discover the joy of reading. The Arts Council is proud to support an organisation which does such life-changing work and we’re looking forward to seeing how it develops over the next 10 years.”

Kate Edwards, Chief Executive adds, “Our home in a regeneration area of Newcastle has been a catalyst for tourism, as well as millions of pounds of developer investment. Our exhibitions celebrate some of Britain’s best loved children’s books, and our exhibition touring programme has reached well over a million children and grownups in all four nations of the UK. Our close relationship with the publishing industry has been invaluable in enabling this work, raising the profile of best loved and rising stars in children’s writing and illustration.

Kate goes on, “Research shows a clear links between being able to read and being able to give and get more from life and work. It also shows that Britain is facing a problem in literacy, with 4 out of 10 of children on free schools meals not able to read well by the age of 111. The Northeast is a regions most affected by these challenges, with higher levels of poverty at 24.5% (compared to 20.6% average nationally)2 and NE children lagging behind the national average in expected levels of communication, language and literacy skills3 in early years.. Seven Stories, with our joyful and inclusive approach to creative reading and writing, storytelling and sharing, has an important part to play in addressing these issues.

The reception comes on the eve of Chancellor’s Comprehensive Spending Review, which will be published on 25 November 2015, setting out how the government will invest in priority public services and will deliver the savings required to eliminate Britain’s deficit.

Seven Stories is part of Arts Councils England’s National Portfolio of organisations that receives investment, supporting 29% of the charity’s costs. The remainder is earned through its fundraising and income generation activity, including running a specialist children’s bookshop. Seven Stories, along with its nine cultural venue peers in Newcastle and Gateshead, makes an economic return of £4.50 for every £1 of public funding invested4.

1. Centre Forum analysis of National Pupil Database from the Read On Get On coalition
2. Office for National Statistics
3. Early years Foundation Stage 2013 data
4. Newcastle Gateshead Cultural venues Economic Impact Study 2014/15 - ERS

Notes to Editor

Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books
Seven Stories is The National Centre for Children’s Books – the only museum in Britain dedicated to saving, celebrating and sharing our rich literary heritage for children.  Seven Stories’ home is a carefully converted listed warehouse in Newcastle upon Tyne in North East England. The museum opened in 2005 and its 80,000 visitors/year explore seven floors of galleries, performance and maker spaces, a specialist children’s bookshop and a café. Everything Seven Stories does uses children’s books to inspire children and grown-ups to be curious, imaginative and creative. It strives to encourage people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to read and write creatively through inventive and immersive exhibitions and lively events and learning programmes.

• Seven Stories has built a comprehensive children’s literature archive from the 1930s to the present day. It collects all that goes into the making of a book – first scribbles, dummy books, roughs, final artwork, letters and correspondence, drafts and finished manuscript. The work of over 200 British authors and illustrators, including Judith Kerr, Michael Morpurgo, Enid Blyton, Philip Pullman and David Almond, is cared for in our Collection – and it is still growing.
• Over 80,000 people visit us every year, including 12,000 visits from school children. Seven Stories works with children and families from disadvantaged and diverse backgrounds through outreach and participation work. In 2014/15 18,000 children and carers took part in activities to build book and story sharing confidence and enjoyment. Since 2005 over 700,000 people have visited Seven Stories.
• Seven Stories is becoming known across the UK through its ambitious touring exhibition programme. Ten of our exhibitions have toured and have been seen by more than 1.4 million people.
• Seven Stories is part of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio. It is an accredited museum with National status, recognising the national and international significance of its collections and the quality of the work in sharing these treasures through its exhibitions and its public and learning programmes.
• Seven Stories has a strategic partnership with Newcastle University, which aims to improve research and teaching opportunities and to increase its societal impact, to provide work placement opportunities for students, to build opportunities for public engagement and involvement and to develop the shared archival and intellectual assets, putting Newcastle at the forefront of children’s literature and literacy excellence.

Seven Stories has been widely recognised for its abilities and achievements:
• Won the prestigious Eleanor Farjeon Award in 2010 in recognition of its outstanding contribution to children’s literature.
• National status was awarded by Arts Council England in 2012 in recognition of the significance of the Collection and the excellent way Seven Stories engages with its audiences.
• Winner of a National Lottery Award in September 2013 after being voted the UK’s favourite education project.
Seven Stories is a charity, all the money earned and raised is used to safeguard the magic of children’s books for future generations to enjoy.

Arts Council England

Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2015 and 2018, we plan to invest £1.1 billion of public money from government and an estimated £700 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

For more information contact Kathryn Row: Programme and Marketing Manager
Tel: 0845 271 0777 ext 209