Literature Wales appoints two new Chief Executive Officers

Literature Wales is pleased to announce the appointment of Leusa Llewelyn and Claire Furlong as joint-Chief Executives for the organisation.

Following an open recruitment process, Claire Furlong has been appointed Executive Director, and Leusa Llewelyn Artistic Director. They will each focus on different aspects of Literature Wales’ strategic work, whilst working together to achieve the organisation’s overall vision of a Wales where literature empowers, improves and brightens lives.

They will officially start their new roles on 1 September 2022, leading the team of staff and collaborating with the sector and key partners to deliver Literature Wales’ Strategic Plan 2022-25.

Literature Wales is the national company for the development of literature. Funded by the Arts Council of Wales, it was established in 2011, under the leadership of Chief Executive, Lleucu Siencyn.

Cathryn Charnell-White, Chair of the Literature Wales Board of Directors said: “Appointing Claire and Leusa to lead Literature Wales is a bold artistic, administrational, and democratic development for the company. They are deeply committed to the principles that are embedded in our current strategic plan, and have fresh ideas that will ensure that the power of literature will continue to inspire authors and communities across Wales. On behalf of the Board, I congratulate them warmly and wish them well as they take the helm.”

Phil George, Chair, Arts Council of Wales said: “I am delighted that Leusa and Claire have been appointed joint-Chief Executives of Literature Wales. They bring with them a wealth of experience from within and beyond the literature sector. Most importantly, they have a passion for the rich, challenging and diverse work of Wales’ writers and a strong desire to develop new voices. They both share the Arts Council of Wales’ belief that the arts should be central to the life and well-being of the nation, alive and experienced in communities everywhere. I know they will work energetically and skilfully to build on the excellent legacy of the outgoing CEO, Lleucu Siencyn. Congratulations both.”

Leusa is originally from Llanuwchllyn but she now lives in Cwm-y-glo. She received an undergraduate degree from Aberystwyth University in Welsh and International Politics before completing an MPhil focussing on Welsh travel writing. She moved to Cardiff in 2011 to join Literature Wales as Children and Young People Officer, on the day Literature Wales was founded. She returned to Gwynedd in 2015 as Head of Tŷ Newydd, Literature Wales’ National Writing Centre. Leusa is a trustee of Theatr Clwyd and in her spare time, she keeps bees and enjoys walking in the mountains of Eryri.

Leusa said: “Stepping into the role of Artistic Director at Literature Wales is an enormous privilege, especially as it is now over ten years since I joined the organisation as a junior officer straight from university. Literature is my world, and it is the biggest honour to have been given the opportunity to lead our national literature organisation, which exists to develop more writers who represent what makes Wales fantastic and unique, to amplify our poetic and literary heritage, and to use the healing power of creative writing to contribute towards the well-being of our communities. It will be a pleasure to share the role with Claire, who has one of the sharpest, most agile minds I have come across. I look forward to collaborating with her to prioritise the numerous ideas we have, shaping them into transformative projects we can implement and deliver. We are both extremely excited to begin this new challenge.”

Claire joined the team at Literature Wales in 2021 as Deputy CEO, following 15 years in the music industry in England where she developed UK-wide progression routes for jazz education, and talent development schemes. She studied at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff and brings a wealth of experience from outside the literature world to the team. She lives in Carmarthenshire and is a keen Welsh learner.  

Claire said: “I’m honoured to be taking the reins of Literature Wales as Executive Director, and thrilled to be doing so alongside Leusa, someone who I respect hugely for her unrivalled passion and understanding of Welsh literature. 

Since joining the fantastic team at Literature Wales, I have been impressed by the sheer volume of excellent Welsh writers, and the plurality of Welshness that they represent. I am excited to play my part in developing and platforming this talent within Wales and internationally.

Together Leusa and I have a bold vision for thriving literary scene in Wales and are excited to work with others across the sector to achieve a Wales where literature empowers, improves and brightens lives.”

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