We are currently seeking artists and arts organisations to apply to be part of the Deptford Literature Festival programme. Taking place on Saturday 14 March 2020 at various locations around Deptford, Deptford Literature Festival will feature performances, readings, workshops and more, with activities led by local writers and creatives: Inua Ellams, Ella Frears, Jamie Hale, TOKEN Magazine and Knights Of.  

We have 5x open commissions of £500 available to writers, artists and arts organisations based in Deptford and Lewisham to deliver activity as part of the festival.

Commissions could include: writing workshops, readings, performances, talks, walks, participatory sessions, cross-arts activity, local heritage activity and more… 

The only stipulations are that activity takes place on 14 March at the Festival, is literature based, and has a connection to Deptford and the surrounding area.

To apply, please send a proposal - no more than 2 sides of A4. 

The proposal should include:

  • Information about you/your organisation
  • Examples of your previous work
  • An outline of your idea and how you plan to deliver it
  • Planned location for your activity
  • Any technical considerations
  • Description of how your activity meets the remit of the Festival
  • Audience(s) you think will engage with your activity
  • Contact details, including your postal address

The Festival will be able to offer:

  • Space at Deptford Lounge to host commissioned activity. Alternatively, your activity can take place in other locations in Deptford. Please state in your proposal the planned location, and - if you are not planning on using Deptford Lounge - whether you have approached the venue(s) to confirm if they’d be willing to participate.
  • Marketing and communications support through Spread the Word’s marketing channels, mailing list and a Festival flyer.

Commissions will be decided by a panel of the Festival producers and applicants will hear back by 20 December 2019.

Deadline: 5pm Friday 13 December 2019.

If you have any questions about this opportunity, please contact festival@spreadtheword.org.uk 

Deptford Literature Festival is partnering with TOKEN Magazine, to produce a special edition issue

This special edition issue TOKEN is looking for writing inspired by Deptford and Lewisham, with a preference for writers based in the area. 

We want to celebrate both the richness of the area, and the art and literature that comes from it. That said, you can loosely interpret the theme, if you wish. 

We’re looking for short stories, life writing, photography, artwork, illustrations, poems, and comic strips. 

For details on each art form please read the below guidelines. The deadline for submissions is 5pm Friday 13 December 2019. The issue will be published for Deptford Literature Festival on 14 March 2020. 


TOKEN Magazine, founded in 2017, is a literature and arts print magazine that features under-represented writers and artists. It is ran single-handedly by Sara Jafari, with the aim of championing under-represented voices, and telling stories that are not often heard through mainstream channels. 

Submission guidelines

Submissions must be inspired by Deptford and Lewisham, with a preference for writers based in the area. You can loosely interpret the theme, if you wish. 

This opportunity is for under-represented writers and artists. As part of your submission we will ask you to confirm and state how you are under-represented. By under-represented we mean BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) or LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer) communities, those who have a disability, or come from a socio-economically marginalised background. We recognise that you may be under-represented and not be from these backgrounds, and in this case we’d suggest you submit, following the below guidelines and stating how you are under-represented. 

We only accept works that have not been published before (though if part of it has, that’s fine).

Support from Spread the Word means Token Magazine is able to offer a £50 fee to all selected contributors, who will also receive a copy of the magazine.

Short Stories, Life Writing, Articles and Interviews 

The word count for written pieces is 500 – 3000 words. We’ll only be accepting one written submission per submitter, due to the amount of submissions we receive. So please send your best work. 


You can submit a maximum of 3 poems, with a maximum of 3 pages each. Please send them all in one document. 

Artwork and Photography

In addition to your artwork and photography we’d also like a short description accompanying the piece.

Comic Strips

You can submit an already drawn comic strip – or you can pitch an idea to us, with a link to your portfolio.  


Unless you have a series of illustrations you’d like to submit (if so, we’d suggest following the ‘art and photography’ guidelines), we work closely with the illustrators after the written pieces are commissioned. We then match illustrators to written pieces and send a brief. If you are interested in being a part of this process, please state your interest. In addition to this, please also send us across past examples of your work/your portfolio. 

If you have any questions about submitting, please contact festival@spreadtheword.org.uk 

Good luck with your submission! 

Spread the Word is delighted to be an official partner for The Free Reads scheme, supporting applications from London writers. Over the last 10 years, we’ve supported more than 70 writers with receiving professional feedback. The scheme is open throughout the year with two deadline windows: 1 July and 1 December 2019.

To apply for the Free Reads scheme via Spread the Word, you must live in London and be on a low-income, meeting one of the following criteria:

– You are in receipt of Universal Credit, Job Seeker’s Allowance, disability benefit, income support or working tax credit
– You earn less than the London Living Wage of £10.55 per hour
– You are a full-time student
– You are aged 60 or over

If you identify as being on low-income but do not meet one of the criteria listed above then please get in touch as we are able to evaluate applicants’ eligibility on a case-by-case basis.

All applicants must submit:

– A completed TLC Free Reads Scheme form (available to download here)
– The first 1,000 words of your writing or up to 20 pages if your writing is poetry or script-writing
– A complete synopsis of the written work submitted. The synopsis must clearly show your story’s outline and should not exceed 1,000 words
– Documentation that shows you meet the criteria to apply for a Free Read

We will respond to all applicants within three weeks after each deadline window. 

We have provided a list of FAQs with details on how to submit your entry. If you have any further queries, please get in touch. Good luck!

Thanks for your interest in Spread the Word's Life Writing Prize 2020.  
This year's judges are Sathnam Sanghera, Kerry Hudson and Nell Stevens. You can read more about the Life Writing Prize on our website: http://www.spreadtheword.org.uk/life-writing-prize

The Prize is open to writers resident in the UK and is free to enter. 

Before you submit, please make sure you've had a look through the Prize rules & guidelines for the Life Writing Prize 2020. You can find them here.

Got a question? Check out our FAQs here. If your enquiry isn’t listed or you need further information, do get in touch.

Submissions open on Monday 4 November 2019 and close on Monday 3 February 2020 at 11am.  

We're looking forward to reading your work, and thank you for your interest in the Life Writing Prize. 

Spread the Word