A collective voice for literature and languages in Scotland

Resources

BAME perceptions & experiences of Scotland’s literary sector – survey report

In spring 2020, Scottish BAME Writers Network (SBWN) partnered with EDI Scotland to gather the perceptions and experiences of BAME writers in and from Scotland. The survey aimed to assess gaps, absences, and barriers to participation in Scotland’s literary sector, and to help SBWN plan inclusive programming during their pilot programme and beyond. Following SBWN’s Call to Action to the literary sector in June, the SBWN survey results, published on 7 July 2020, further highlight the need for lasting change.

Read the report here.

Key findings from respondents include:

  • 62.5% felt that their ethnic identity or race had been a barrier to success in Scotland’s literary sector (within the past 12 months).
  • 26.7% had experienced a racist incident at a literary event or activity in the past 12 months.
  • 68.8% disagreed or strongly disagreed that Scottish books, journals, and literary publications reflect the diversity of Scotland.
  • 71.9% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, ‘I am aware of the diversity of BAME writers that exist in Scotland’.
  • 84.8% overwhelmingly disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement, ‘White Scottish audiences are aware of the diversity of BAME writers that exist in Scotland’.
  • 78.2% disagreed or strongly disagreed that BAME and white Scottish people have equal opportunities to succeed in Scotland’s literary sector.

Recommendations for the literary sector include:

  • Provide more developmental support to emerging BAME writers.
  • “Ensure a diversity of BAME writers, including local and working-class BAME writers, are represented through events and activities” and avoid recreating the “same cliques or gated spaces that BAME writers might experience in the wider literary sector”.
  • “Challenge views that suggest diversity and quality are incompatible.”
  • “Upskill literary event chairs and facilitators to challenge microaggressions, inappropriate questions and abuse directed at panellist and performers.”
  • “For white senior figures in Scotland’s literary sector, take responsibility to address inequalities in the literary sector and do not place this onus on BAME people.”

Added on July 10, 2020. Download this resource

The State of Poetry and Poetry Criticism

The Ledbury Poetry Critics 2020 annual report on race and poetry was published on 25 June 2020.

Since the 2017 launch of the Ledbury Poetry Critics programme (at University of Liverpool’s Centre for New and International Writing) clear progress has been made in increasing the diversity of poetry reviewing. Surveying over thirty UK poetry magazines and newspapers from 2009 to 2019, the quantitative success of Ledbury Critics is profoundly clear: although reviews by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnicity (BAME) critics account for only 5.57% of all reviews over the ten-year period (6,804), over half of all these reviews by BAME critics were written since 2017 (201 of 391 total). Put another way, since the Ledbury Critics programme was founded criticism by non-white poetry reviewers has doubled.

This remarkable achievement may be statistically small compared to the still considerable imbalances that persist—but this exponential increase demonstrates that there is a surfeit of highly skilled BAME poetry critics. However, implementing lasting, longer-term structural change is complex and requires a shared belief in equality among commissioning editors, critics and indeed readers of poetry and reviews. Three years on, it is still found that resistance or indifference to inclusivity remains in certain reviewing platforms. At some newspapers and magazines, white writers and editors at all levels replicate and reinforce the racial power structures that keep UK and Irish poetry and its critical culture white, either by choice or by failing to interrogate their commissioning and editorial practices.

With the move towards more qualitative measures of how race and reviewing co-exist in UK and Irish poetry, it is hoped that it is not empty optimism to start looking toward wider social and structural change in the future through an expansion of what constitutes a poetry ‘review’.

Added on June 30, 2020. Download this resource

Rethinking ‘Diversity’ in Publishing

Rethinking ‘Diversity’ in Publishing, launched on 23 June 2020, is the first in-depth academic study in the UK on diversity in trade fiction and the publishing industry with a particular focus on three genres: literary fiction, crime/thriller, and young adult. These genres were chosen because of the way in which they varied in terms of the racial and ethnic diversity of the authors published.

Written by Dr Anamik Saha and Dr Sandra van Lente, the project is a partnership between Goldsmiths, University of London, Spread the Word and The Bookseller, and is based on interviews with authors, agents and representatives from all of the major publishing houses, including CEOs and managing directors, editors, designers and marketing, PR and sales staff. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, it is published by Goldsmiths Press.

Read the Executive Summary

The research entailed qualitative interviews with:

  • 113 professionals in the publishing industry

  • authors, agents, CEOs and managing directors, editors, designers, staff in marketing, PR and sales, as well as booksellers and literature festival organisers

  • respondents from both big and small publishing houses, literary agencies, and booksellers. All the major publishing houses were represented in the research.

Interviewees were asked about their practices and their experience of publishing writers of colour.

Primarily focusing on the so-called ‘neutral’ components of publishing (acquisition, promotion, sales and retail), the report found:

  • assumptions about audiences being white and middle-class still prevail, which is the only audience the big publishers are interested in

  • publishers still see writers of colour as a ‘commercial risk’

  • Black, Asian and minority ethnic and working-class audiences are undervalued by publishers, economically and culturally, impacting on the acquisition, promotion and selling of writers of colour

  • comping practices, when books deemed similar are compared to others as a predictor of sales, create obstacles that privilege established authors and restrict ‘new voices’

  • continued ambiguity of ‘diversity’ as both a moral and economic imperative.

The report is launched as part of a virtual #RethinkingDiversityWeek which runs from 12pm on Tuesday 23 June to Friday 26 June 2020.

 

Added on June 24, 2020. Download this resource

Common People report

The Common People report, published 1 May 2020, identifies the pervasive barriers in the way of working-class writers; makes a clarion call for changes in the publishing industry and strongly recommends more effective and better-funded collaborative working across the commercial and subsidised sectors.

The report suggests that the full diversity of voices active in British society is neither heard nor acknowledged in UK publishing today. It calls for the publishing industry to be more
representative; to work collaboratively with regional cross-sector partnerships; and for new forms of investments to level the playing field in the regions.

The report makes the following recommendations: 
  • New public and private investment to support new publishing ventures outside of London, which will be bring publishing closer to broader audiences and generate more entry points to the industry for talent throughout the UK
  • Increased investment in regional writing development agencies, resulting in improved talent pipelines; fairer, more equitable talent development practices; and improved access to professional support and networks.
  • Decentralisation of the UK publishing, including more literary agents to be established outside the capital to facilitate change and broaden the base of the industry’s taste makers.
  • Improved access to the publishing industry through clearer progression routes into the industry; transparent pay and job opportunities; and accessible recruitment campaigns, in order to enhance diversity among agents, editors and publishers and change the profiles of gatekeepers
  • Awareness and acknowledgement of the multiple barriers facing working-class writers through meaningful designed and sustained support programmes across the UK
  • An industry-wide recognition that developing and supporting new working-class writers will ultimately benefit us all
  • New government policy and policy development – to create new policy options for overcoming barriers and incentivising partnership work through public funding and regional initiatives.

Added on May 4, 2020. View this resource

Health on the Shelf

Latest research from the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) investigating the health & wellbeing offer from Scottish public libraries.

SLIC CEO Pamela Tulloch said: “The report is able to demonstrate the impact the public library health offer has and, what’s more, provide recommendations for the future. It is a key piece of research which highlights the detrimental impact removal of these services would have.”

Published on 7 Apr 2020 on World Health Day.

 

 

Added on April 7, 2020. View this resource

Green Arts Initiative Annual Report 2019

Launched on #GreenArtsDay on 18 March 2020, the report illustrates the work that has taken place over the last year and what members of the initiative are planning for the coming year. It’s jam-packed with information and ideas.

Added on March 23, 2020. Download this resource

A Culture Strategy for Scotland

The strategy, published on 28 Feb 2020, sets out a vision underpinned by three main ambitions: Strengthening culture; Transforming through culture; Empowering through culture. It launches new programmes and initiatives including an innovative Creative Communities Programme and a creative residencies pilot in education settings focussing on areas of multiple deprivation across Scotland. The strategy places culture as a central consideration across all policy areas and aims to open up the potential of culture as a transformative opportunity across society. It also commits to keeping the national culture conversation going by establishing a new National Partnership for culture, providing a voice for the sector to advise Scottish Ministers on matters affecting culture in Scotland.

 

Added on March 3, 2020. Download this resource

Putting Artists in the Picture: A Sustainable Arts Funding System for Scotland

The report from the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee’s arts funding inquiry (#ScotsArtFunding) was published on 10 Dec 2019.

Added on December 23, 2019. View this resource

Breaking New Ground: celebrating children’s writers & illustrators of colour

This catalogue celebrates and champions 100+ children’s writers and illustrators of colour. Produced by Speaking Volumes, it was launched at London Book Fair in 2019 before a national touring showcase across the UK’s four nations from May – July in partnership with Pop Up Projects and BookTrust. The Scotland event was a collaboration between LAS and Scottish Book Trust and took place at Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh on Tues 18 June.

Added on July 3, 2019. View this resource

A Room of My Own – what writers need to work today, June 2019

This report from the Royal Society of Literature reveals that only 5% of writers earn the income Virginia Woolf once argued a writer needs to work. This was £500 a year in her day, now equivalent to just over £30,000. The survey also found that of 2,000+ writers who responded, 25% identified as working class, but only made up 11% of the highest earners and while 52% have freelance, temporary or part-time paid employment; 20% are in full-time paid employment.

Read more of the eye-opening findings in the full report.

Added on July 2, 2019. View this resource

Accessible Social Media Guide 2018 – Inclusion Scotland

Added on December 4, 2018. Download this resource

Vibrant Libraries, Thriving Schools – A National Strategy for School Libraries in Scotland 2018-2023

The Scottish Government and COSLA have jointly produced a new National Strategy for School Libraries, the first of its kind in the UK. It sets out a vision where every child and young person in Scotland has access to a dynamic school library service with 20 actions that decision makers, including local and national government, headteachers and school librarians can implement to deliver that vision.

Added on September 10, 2018. Download this resource

ALCS Authors’ Earnings Report 2018

The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society report reveals writers’ average earnings have dropped to under £10,500 a year, a fall of 15% in real terms since its last review in 2013.

Added on June 28, 2018. Download this resource

A Culture Strategy for Scotland – Draft for Consultation

The consultation closes on Wed 19 Sept 2018.

Added on June 27, 2018. Download this resource

A Culture Strategy for Scotland – Engagement Report

Culture Strategy – full engagement report – March 2018

Culture Strategy – summary engagement report – March 2018

Added on April 10, 2018.

Culture Counts – Core Members Report

The information in this report was gathered from members of Culture Counts who attended the Core Members meeting held at the Mitchell Library on Fri 6th October 2017. They considered questions as outlined in the Scottish Government’s Cultural Strategy Resource Pack.

Added on February 16, 2018. Download this resource

RSL – Literature in Britain Today

Commissioned by the Royal Society of Literature. Published March 2017

Added on September 4, 2017. Download this resource

Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy 2016 (Literacy)

Published 9th May 2017.

Added on July 26, 2017. Download this resource

A Manifesto for Libraries (29 March 2016)

cilips logo

Literature Alliance Scotland (LAS) strongly supports​ the ‘​Manifesto for Libraries’​​ produced by the Chartered Institute of Library Professionals in Scotland (CILIPS), setting out what it believes the next Scottish Government should do to support libraries.

The Manifesto ​has been produced​ a​s part of the ‘Scotland’s Libraries: Inspiration for the Nation’​ campaign supported by a number of national organisations and high profile authors.

The Manifesto asks candidates, if they are elected, to:

  1. Support and call for the full implementation of the National Strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland, agreed last year with the Scottish Government and COSLA including:

– Taking forward a national reading strategy with libraries at its heart

– Rolling out and sustaining the every child a library member project

– Providing high-speed wifi in all community libraries

– Rolling out a national digital skills programme with shared resources

– Developing local, regional and national partnerships to support employability

2.   Work to ensure that all learners in school and further education have on site access to full-time professional library staff.

3.   Support development of a new national strategy for school libraries which recognises their vital role in supporting pupils’ literacy and research skills.

4.   Work closely with Local Government to ensure that all libraries are fully supported.

http://www.cilips.org.uk/a-manifesto-for-libraries/

Added on April 3, 2016. View this resource

Literature, Nation – A Strategic Vision for Literature in Scotland 2008‐2018

Understanding our present, connecting with our past, imagining Scotland’s future

Added on August 9, 2015. Download this resource

Creative Scotland Literature and Publishing Sector Review

Added on July 13, 2015. Download this resource

Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy 2012 (Literacy)

Added on July 13, 2015. Download this resource

Ready to Read Scotland

Added on July 13, 2015. Download this resource

Creative Scotland’s Gaelic Language Plan

Added on July 5, 2015. View this resource

A Traveller’s Guide to Literary Scotland

Added on July 5, 2015. View this resource

Dictionary of the Scots Language

Added on July 5, 2015. View this resource

Creative Scotland’s Scots Language Policy

Added on July 5, 2015. View this resource

National Public Library Strategy

Added on July 5, 2015. View this resource