A collective voice for literature and languages in Scotland

Open Letter: We hope Government will continue to recognise the value of public funding of the arts

The Editor, The Herald

The cultural sector in Scotland awaits the UK Government’s budget announcement on Wednesday this week with trepidation: a perfect storm approaches.  Stark warnings have been issued to prepare for significant financial challenges. But further cuts to the public funding that supports the arts and its infrastructure in Scotland, the bedrock of a cultural offer recognised worldwide for its quality, will undoubtedly lead to the disappearance of many irreplaceable arts organisations.

The sector in Scotland has already weathered cuts of more than a third in real terms since 2010, including a year-on-year collapse of Lottery funding, which until now has been used to shore up Creative Scotland’s core funding for theatres, galleries, venues, literature, and more.  Creative Scotland would need an increase of 48% or £22m on the 2016 budget simply to match the real-term level of 2010.  Arts Council England, by contrast, this year announced £170m in new investment to support 180 additional National Portfolio Organisations.

Core funding reductions are compounded by threats from other areas:  if Barclay Review recommendations are implemented, millions would be wiped from the budgets of arts venues across Scotland.  Culture is not a protected spend, so further cuts to Local Authority budgets will wipe out grass roots community arts activities.

We welcome the positive public statements made by the Scottish Government in acknowledging the central role culture plays across our society, and we applaud the major new investments in film and the Edinburgh Festivals, The Burrell Collection and The V&A in Dundee. Clearly, the will to support arts and culture exists at the highest level.

However, big flagship investments cannot substitute for the basic funding that our everyday, small-to-medium sized cultural groups need to exist. If these disappear, which many will if predictions about cuts to Regular Funding Organisations (RFOs) are correct, how will we nurture and sustain the highly skilled but low-paid artists who deliver arts, culture and creative experiences to audiences across every community in Scotland?

We are clear that we have now arrived at a tipping point where even a small cut to Creative Scotland’s Grant-In-Aid, alongside the reduction in Lottery funds and local authority cuts, will devastate Scotland’s arts and culture infrastructure.  Damage to this infrastructure, developed with the aid of public investment over the last fifty years, will be irreversible. This cannot be overstated.

Conversely, a very small increase in funding would allow the core infrastructure of arts and culture in Scotland to survive and to thrive.

The argument for investment is strong. The arts and culture sector is one of the most efficient and dynamic in the country. In 2015/16 RFOs attracted £109m of extra investment from sources other than public funds and created 1.62 million public participation opportunities. In 2015, 92% of adults in Scotland participated in a cultural activity and Scotland’s Creative industries contribute £4.6bn GVA to the Scottish economy, supporting 73,600 jobs. These outcomes draw from, and depend on, skills identified and developed by the arts.

We are proud to live in a country that values arts and culture for its own sake as well as for its wider societal impact on health, education, justice and communities.  Government funding is vital to this ecosystem. We write to ensure the potential impact of further cuts is fully understood, and we ask the Scottish Government to demonstrate that understanding in the Draft Budget to come.

Yours faithfully,

Seonaid Daly, Director, Scottish Contemporary Art Network

Marc Lambert, Literature Alliance Scotland

Jan-Bert van den Berg, Director, Artlink Edinburgh & Lothians

Fiona Logue, Director, Craft Scotland

Dave Watson, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Unison

Claire Stewart, Director, Creative Edinburgh

David Francis, Director, Traditional Music Forum

Jude Henderson, Director, Federation of Scottish Theatre

David Watt, Chief Executive, Arts & Business Scotland

Janie Nicoll, former President, Scottish Artist Union

Sara Graham, CC Skills, Nations Director

Robert Livingston, Director, Regional Screen Scotland

Diana A Sykes, Director, Fife Contemporary

The letter appeared in The Herald on Tues 21 November 2017 here, and was also covered by Phil Miller online here.

 

 

November 21, 2017

Muriel Spark 100: Centenary Celebrations

First details announced for nationwide programme of events & activities celebrating the life & work of Dame Muriel Spark: November 2017 – November 2018

Centenary website goes live: www.murielspark100.com @MurielSpark100 #murielspark100

Organisers encourage people to get involved

Launch of new fund for artists & groups to develop & present work

Advice available to those planning activities

Today, Thursday 26 October 2017, the first details are announced for Muriel Spark 100 – a year-long, nationwide programme of literary and cultural events and activities marking the centenary of one of Scotland’s finest and most internationally respected writers, Dame Muriel Spark.

Watch the promotional video:

Trailer_Muriel_Spark_100 from Creative Scotland on Vimeo.

 

Led by Creative Scotland and the National Library of Scotland in collaboration with a host of partner individuals, groups and organisations, today’s news coincides with:

  • the launch of a dedicated centenary website murielspark100.com
  • new funds for artists and groups to develop and present new work as part of the centenary year
  • a call out by Muriel Spark 100 organisers to anyone with plans to mark the centenary, to be in touch.

Events and activities already confirmed include the re-publication of all 22 of Spark’s novels by Polygon, an imprint of Birlinn ltd (from Nov ‘17); the unveiling of Spark’s extraordinary archive at a landmark National Library of Scotland exhibition (Dec ‘17-May ‘18); leading Scottish writers Ali Smith, Val McDermid, Janice Galloway, Kate Clanchy and Louise Welsh reflecting on Spark’s career in a new BBC Radio 3 series (Jan ‘18); an international conference bringing together fans and academics to explore all aspects of Spark’s writing (Jan/Feb ‘18); Edinburgh Spy Week’s ‘18.

Commenting, Muriel’s great friend Penelope Jardine said: “Muriel’s contribution to Scottish Letters is one of manifest originality, brevity of wit, with the musical composition and rhythms of a poet. Something unforgettable sui generis.”

The initiative has been welcomed by Scotland’s Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop: “I’m really excited about the forthcoming celebration of Muriel Spark 100. Dame Muriel Spark was one of Scotland’s literary giants and, to this day, her work continues to inspire generations of readers and writers and resonates with audiences across the country and beyond.

“I commend Creative Scotland, the National Library of Scotland and all the other partners involved for delivering such an engaging and varied programme of activity and I am looking forward to attending some of these events next year.”

As details are confirmed they will be announced through the newly launched website www.murielspark100.com and posted through the following channels:

@MurielSpark100 / #murielspark100 / facebook.com/murielspark100

Muriel Spark 100 Chair and Creative Scotland Head of Literature, Publishing and Languages, Jenny Niven said: “The centenary of Dame Muriel Spark’s birth is both a landmark moment and an unparalleled opportunity to permanently influence the way in which this leading figure of Scotland’s cultural history features in the public imagination.

“There is so much to explore in Ms Spark’s work, from her incisive commentary, to her startling poetry, to her ability to effortlessly weave folk tradition with biting satire. It’s a particularly interesting time too to consider her legacy, as a Scottish writer who was fiercely international in her approach and who broke through a great many barriers in her career.

“It’s testament to her range and relevance that so many Scottish organisations will engage with her work and legacy throughout 2018 and we are looking forward enormously to this varied and unusual programme. Creating space for contemporary writers and artists to reflect on Muriel Spark’s influence on them is also very important to this project and we hope to see some really exciting and ambitious proposals through the small grants fund in her name.”

National Librarian Dr John Scally said: “The opportunity to celebrate the life and work of Dame Muriel Spark is as exciting a prospect as opening one of her books for the very first time. She is one of Scotland’s finest ever writers and her reputation extends far beyond these shores. It is fitting therefore that the National Library of Scotland and Creative Scotland are marking the centenary of her birth with Muriel Spark 100 – a year- long programme of activity that promises to be lively, varied and engaging.”

SMALL GRANTS SCHEME

Awards of up to £1,500 are available to support people and projects across a range of art forms. The deadline for proposals is Monday 4 December 2017, with selected projects being announced in early 2018. Further details, funding guidelines and application form are available on Creative Scotland’s website here: www.creativescotland.com/murielspark100fund

MORE WAYS TO JOIN IN…

For those looking to develop events or who would like to mark the centenary in some way – from exhibitions to readings, talks to screenings – contact Muriel Spark 100 Project Coordinator Sabrina Leruste at s.leruste@nls.uk who can offer advice on promoting events as part of the Muriel Spark 100 programme and making connections with relevant counterparts.

Information on a cross section of programme highlights so far:

NATIONAL LIBRARY OF SCOTLAND – THE INTERNATIONAL STYLE OF MURIEL SPARK Fri 8 Dec 2017 – Sun 13 May 2018
National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh www.nls.uk/exhibitions

A major new exhibition revealing unique insights into Muriel Spark’s extraordinary life and work. Featuring personal artefacts never before seen by the public The International Style of Muriel Spark will showcase the National Library of Scotland’s Muriel Spark Archive which is one of the most comprehensive personal records of a writer’s life ever assembled.

The writer’s boxed archive covers the period from the 1940s until her death in 2006, taking up some 46 metres of shelving — just short of the height of Edinburgh’s famous Scott monument. The early records of wartime poverty that chart the struggles of an unknown author are joined by scores of diaries, fascinating letters including those with literary giants, world leaders and film stars, diaries, photographs, newspaper cuttings and school magazines all of which illuminate the inspirations behind Spark’s literary style, her love of fashion, and the significance of the places where she lived.

Colin McIlroy, Muriel Spark Project Curator, National Library of Scotland commented: “Muriel Spark was a self-confessed hoarder. She kept everything from school magazines to shopping receipts, photographs, desk diaries and letters from some of the biggest names in 20th century literature. This is what makes her archive so fascinating. The exhibition will allow us to showcase items never before seen by the public and, in the process, shed new light on an incredible life. It will illuminate her literary style, her love of fashion and the significance of the many places around the world in which she lived.”

PUBLICATION OF NEW EDITIONS OF ALL 22 MURIEL SPARK NOVELS

Publication dates: Nov 2017 – Sep 2018
Each book is priced at £9.99 (hardback). https://murielspark100.com/event/muriel-spark-novels- centenary-editions/

In a bold publishing move, all 22 novels written by Muriel Spark are being re-published by Polygon, an imprint of Birlinn ltd. Each novel will be published in a striking and collectable hardback centenary edition, carrying a series preface by editor Alan Taylor and an introduction by such well-known writers or critics as Ali Smith, William Boyd, Alexander McCall Smith, Candia McWilliam, James Wood, Andrew O’Hagan, Joseph Kanon, Zoë Strachan, Allan Massie, Kapka Kassabova, Dan Gunn Ian Rankin and Richard Holloway. Supported by Creative Scotland and The Muriel Spark Society.

The first four novels – The Comforters, Robinson, Memento Mori, and The Ballad of Peckham Rye – will be published in November 2017. A Far Cry From Kensington will be released early in January, with the next four – The Bachelors, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Girls of Slender Means, The Mandelbaum Gate – on the anniversary itself, 1st February 2018. The remainder will be published over the course of the following six months, finishing in September 2018.

“The Polygon team are delighted to republish all 22 of Muriel Spark’s quite perfect novels in striking, collectable, affordable editions. With the support of Creative Scotland and the Muriel Spark Society, and the drive of series editor Alan Taylor, all of them are being re-issued by Polygon between November 2017 and September 2018, putting her writing exactly where it should be – right at the heart of the celebrations for her centenary” – Jan Rutherford, Birlinn Ltd

Alan Taylor added: “Everyone knows that Muriel Spark was the author of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which is undoubtedly one of the twentieth century’s great works of fiction. What too few people also know is that she wrote 21 other novels, all of which are infused with her trademark blend of fun and profundity, original thinking and peerless style.

“Now, for the first time, readers have the opportunity to read Spark at her sparkling best, in a uniform, covetable, hardback edition which even those of slender means can afford.”

BBC RADIO 3 AND ONLINE – ALL MISS BRODIE’S GIRLS?
Sun 29 Jan – Thur 2 Feb 2018 https://murielspark100.com/event/all-miss-brodies-girls/ 22.45-23.00 every night on BBC Radio 3 and online on the BBC Website and on i-player

Every night from Sunday 29 January until Thursday 2 February, leading Scottish writers Ali Smith, Val McDermid, Janice Galloway, Kate Clanchy and Louise Welsh will reflect on different aspects of the career of Muriel Spark in a series of essays on BBC Radio 3.

BBC SCOTLAND/BBC FOUR – MURIEL SPARK DOCUMENTARY

Early 2018 (exact date tbc) www.bbc.co.uk
Early in 2018, BBC Scotland and BBC Four will screen a documentary on the life and work of Muriel Spark. Presented by Kirsty Wark, the programme will explore the writer’s extraordinary life and work.

MURIEL SPARK CENTENARY SYMPOSIUM

Wed 31 Jan – Fri 2 Feb 2018
University of Glasgow, Senate, Carnegie & Melville Rooms, University Avenue G12 8QQ https://murielspark100.com/event/muriel-spark-centenary-symposium/
Booking information available soon

At the end of January, the University of Glasgow will host a 2-day symposium exploring all aspects of Spark’s writing. Film screenings and creative writing workshops are being planned alongside talks and discussions from Spark fans, distinguished academics and Scottish and international writers including Zoë Strachan, Louise Welsh and Ali Smith. Themes will cover humour, satire and transgression, faith and surveillance, writing and gender in Spark’s work.

Dr Helen Stoddart, Senior Lecturer in English Literature, University of Glasgow said: “The Muriel Spark Centenary Symposium at the University of Glasgow will be a celebration and a critical consideration of Scotland’s most cosmopolitan writer. Spark’s books and characters feature deep spiritual insight and slashing satirical comedy, the latter often portraying the petty confidence tricks that people employ. From the 1960s, when ‘condition of Scotland’ fiction was being demanded by the critical and cultural establishment, she gave the world instead, ‘condition of the human soul’ writing.”

APPOINTMENT IN AREZZO: A FRIENDSHIP WITH MURIEL SPARK by ALAN TAYLOR

Publication date: from mid November https://murielspark100.com/event/appointment-in-arezzo-a- friendship-with-muriel-spark-by-alan-taylor/ £12.99

Alan Taylor, longstanding friend and travel companion to Muriel Spark, editor of the Birlinn novels re-edition series, well-known literary journalist for over 30 years and author of many books will publish in November 2017 Appointment in Arezzo: A friendship with Muriel Spark.

An intimate, fond and funny memoir of one of the greatest novelists of the last century, this colourful, personal, anecdotal, indiscrete and admiring memoir charts the course of Muriel Spark’s life. With sources ranging from notebooks kept from his very first encounter with Muriel and the hundreds of letters they exchanged over the years,

Appointment in Arezzo offers an invaluable portrait of one of Edinburgh’s premiere novelists.

EDINBURGH SPY WEEK 2018 – SECRECY, SPIES AND MURIEL SPARK
April 2018 (exact date of talk to be announced soon)
National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EW https://murielspark100.com/event/edinburgh-spy-week-2018-secrecy-spies-and-muriel-spark//

Edinburgh Spy Week is an annual week of public events focusing on spy fiction and film and the ways in which secrecy and spying run through our culture, organised by the University of Edinburgh with the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh Filmhouse, and Blackwell’s. To tie in with the centenary, Spy Week 2018 spotlights the role of secrecy in the life and work of Muriel Spark. Spark was recruited into the Black Propaganda Unit of MI6 during WWII: ‘I played a small part’, Spark wrote, ‘but as a fly on the wall I took in a whole world of intrigue and method’.

The week of events will explore the ways in which this ‘world of intrigue and method’ play out in Spark’s writing, in which espionage, secrecy and spying often takes centre- stage.

Dr Simon Cooke, Department of English Literature, University of Edinburgh, said: “The idea of the event is to explore a pervasive cultural concern. While Spark wasn’t a spy out in the field, she had a career in political intelligence and she did meet a lot of people who were spies. It was a small part of her life in some ways, but if you look at her fiction, the notion of secrecy occurs with some frequency. Books like The Mandelbaum Gate, The Hothouse by the East River and Territorial Rights are, in many ways, spy novels.

“There are a lot of ways in which secrecy and secret agents have a very powerful pull on the imagination and what we want to do is respond to that and try to give interesting discussions, screenings and lectures by some of the key people who are thinking through these ideas.”

GLASGOW WOMEN’S LIBRARY EXHIBITION IN COLLABORATION WITH GLASGOW SCHOOL OF ART – MAKING SPARKS

Jun-Aug 2018 (exact date to be announced soon)
Glasgow School of Art https://murielspark100.com/event/making-sparks/

Since its inception in 1991, Glasgow Women’s Library has been collecting Muriel Spark’s work. Vintage gems in Spark’s cover art collection, many of which have been donated from Spark fans looking for a new home for their beloved books, will make up an exhibition that will show a colourful timeline of interpretations of Spark’s novels over the years.

Taking inspiration from these cover images, a group of first and second year students from Glasgow School of Art are working to create their own exhibition of illustration, and graphics. Showing from summer 2018, this will run alongside the cover art exhibition.

Adele Patrick, Lifelong Learning and Creative Development Manager at Glasgow Women’s Library said: “The Muriel Spark centenary is a hugely important event for Scotland as it provides us with the opportunity to honour one of our great literary talents. As one of only a few 20th century Scottish women writers to have her legacy recognised in this way, it poignantly and positively reminds us about the wider array of women writers from history that we risk forgetting.

“We are delighted to be working with long term collaborators Glasgow School of Art on a programme where young designers will mine the Glasgow Women’s Library Muriel Spark collection to create new illustrative interpretations.”

ARTS SCHOOLS ENGAGEMENT PROJECT

Nationwide, throughout 2018

Muriel Spark 100 is collaborating with Scottish arts schools to invite Illustration, Design and Animation tutors and lecturers to involve students in developing new work based on, or influenced by Spark’s work and/or life.

Glasgow School of Art, Edinburgh College of Art, Gray’s School of Art and Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design are already on board with the project which will offer participating students opportunities to present their work through a variety of platforms as part of the Muriel Spark 100 programme.

Tutors and lecturers who would like to involve students in the project are invited to contact Sabrina Leruste, Muriel Spark 100 Project Coordinator for more information, at s.leruste@nls.uk. Deadline for submissions: Friday 30 March 2018.

WALKING TOURS – WALKING SPARK
From spring 2018
Throughout Edinburgh https://murielspark100.com/event/walking-spark/

Edinburgh City of Literature Trust will be partnering with Mercat Tours to launch Muriel Spark walking tours from Spring 2018. The tours will set Muriel Spark’s work in the context of the city, exploring the places that influenced and inspired her.
Further details and booking information be announced soon.

MEDIA CONTACT

For further press information/interviews/images please contact:
Wendy Grannon, Media Relations & PR Manager, Creative Scotland
E: wendy.grannon@creativescotland.com T: 0131 523 0016 / M: 07916 137 632

NOTES TO EDITORS

  1. Muriel Spark 100 is a year-long, nationwide programme of literary and cultural events and activities marking the centenary of one of Scotland’s finest and most internationally respected writers, Dame Muriel Spark.

The project is led by Creative Scotland and the National Library of Scotland in collaboration with a host of partner individuals, groups and organisations including: Association for Scottish Literary Studies, BBC, Birlinn publishing, Bookmark Festival, British Council, Dovecot Studios Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Edinburgh College of Art, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature, Filmhouse (Edinburgh), Glasgow Film Festival, Glasgow Film Theatre, Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow Women’s Library, Gray’s School of Art, Hospitalfield, Literature Alliance Scotland, Muriel Spark Society, National Galleries of Scotland, Saltire Society, Scottish Book Trust, Scottish Library and Information Council, Scottish Poetry Library, Scottish Review of Book, StAnza Festival, University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow, Visit Scotland, Waterstones, Writers’ Museum

There are a number of ways to get involved in Muriel Spark 100:

Small grants are available to support people and projects across a range of art forms to develop and present work (deadline Mon 4 Dec 2017)

For those looking to develop events or who would like to mark the Centenary in some way – from exhibitions to readings, talks to screenings – contact Muriel Spark 100 Project Coordinator Sabrina Leruste at s.leruste@nls.uk who can offer advice on promoting events as part of the Muriel Spark 100 programme and making connections with relevant counterparts.

Further information and updates are available at www.murielspark100.com and posted through the following channels: @MurielSpark100 / #murielspark100 / facebook.com/murielspark100

  1. About Muriel Spark

Muriel Spark (née Camberg; 1 February 1918 – 13 April 2006) was a poet, writer of fiction, criticism and literary biography. Best-known as the author of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark was at the top of her profession, internationally, for more than half a century and went on to win many literary awards. She received a number of honorary degrees, and was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1993.

Never out of print, Muriel Spark wrote many well-known novels including The Driver’s Seat, The Girls of Slender Means and Momento Mori. Her work found critical approval, and her novels, where the supernatural and the surreal come into collision – and collusion – with the everyday, helped to change the face of fiction in the English language.

In the 1940s Spark decided to keep a record of her professional and personal activities, beginning an archive that is now one of the largest and most comprehensive held by the National Library of Scotland. http://digital.nls.uk/murielspark/

  1. Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life. We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. www.creativescotland.com / @creativescots www.facebook.com/CreativeScotland.
  2. National Library of Scotland

The National Library of Scotland is a major European research library and one of the world’s leading centres for the study of Scotland and the Scots – an information treasure trove for Scotland’s knowledge, history and culture. The Library’s collections are of world-class importance. Key areas include digital material, rare books, manuscripts, maps, music, moving images, official publications, business information, science and technology, and modern and foreign collections. The Library holds more than 26 million physical items dating back over 1000 years in addition to a growing library of e-books, e- journals and other digital material. The collection includes over four million books, eight million manuscripts, two million maps and over 45,000 films and videos. Every week the Library collects around 3,000 new items. Most of these are received free of charge in terms of Legal Deposit legislation. www.nls.uk / @natlibscot / facebook

 

October 26, 2017

Creative Scotland seeks Literature Officer

The following information is taken from Creative Scotland’s website.

Edinburgh
Salary: £26,016 pa plus pension and benefits
Full-time (36 hrs per week), permanent

Creative Scotland is the national development agency for Scotland’s arts, screen and creative industries.

We are looking for a Literature Officer to join us and support Creative Scotland’s work in the context of our 10-year Strategic Plan and our Annual Plan. You will be an active member of the Literature team and will assess and make recommendations on a range of funding applications, projects and funding. You will also be expected to lead on a number of different projects and support the wider work of the Literature Team across a variety of different programmes.

The person appointed will work closely with cultural organisations and other key stakeholders to support the delivery of our work in literature and publishing.

Our ideal candidate will have a successful track record of project management and good knowledge of literature and publishing across Scotland. You will have demonstrable experience and knowledge of the literature sector, experience of readership or literature development including experience of working with a wide and diverse range of writers and literature professionals.

You will also be able to demonstrate experience in carrying out detailed assessments of proposals and producing clear reports and recommendations. Experience and understanding of the arts in Scotland, in particular literature and publishing, combined with strong interpersonal skills is essential. Experience of managing evaluation and monitoring processes is desirable but not essential, as is the ability to develop and establish partnerships both at home and abroad, and demonstrate commitment to our core values.

Closing date for receipt of completed application forms is 12 noon on Thursday 7 September 2017.

Interviews will be held in Edinburgh on Tuesday 19 September 2017. If selected for interview you will be expected to be available on this date.

Download an application form and information pack here.

August 30, 2017

Muriel Spark 100

Are you planning an event to celebrate the Muriel Spark centenary or have an idea for an event you would like to develop?

The Muriel Spark 100 programme aims to raise the profile of Dame Muriel, her work, and her legacy and place her in the centre of the cultural landscape of 2018.

Led by the National Library of Scotland and Creative Scotland with the collaboration of many partner organisations – including BBC, Glasgow University, Scottish Book Trust, British Council, Muriel Spark Society, GFT and Glasgow Women’s Library –  the Muriel Spark 100 programme will celebrate the life and literary achievements of one of Scotland’s finest and most internationally respected writers across the year, through a series of events, including talks, exhibitions, readings, publications and screenings.

They are looking for organisations and practitioners with work in development or who would be interested to mark the centenary in some way. From exhibitions to readings, talks or screenings, the formats and angles for contribution are diverse.

For more information, please contact the Muriel Spark 100 Coordinator, Sabrina Leruste, at s.leruste@nls.uk

August 24, 2017

Creative Scotland news: Growing Scotland’s Literature and Publishing Sector

Creative_Scotland-logo-695

Jenny Niven, Head of Literature, Languages and Publishing at Creative Scotland today, Wednesday 23 November 2016, provides an update on Creative Scotland’s work to support Scotland’s Literature and Publishing Sector, since the publication of its Literature and Publishing Review.

The update coincides with Niven’s appearance at Literature Alliance Scotland’s International Summit, taking place at Edinburgh’s Storytelling Centre, during Book Week Scotland.

Jenny Niven, Head of Literature, Languages and Publishing at Creative Scotland, commented:
“Convened in direct response to recommendations within the Literature and Publishing Sector Review published in June 2015, the Summit is bringing together – for the first time – writers, publishers, literature organisations and public bodies to plan how Scotland can better support the international promotion and presentation of Scotland’s writers and literature.

“A range of other projects, including new support for translation as well as investment in the recently established International Literature Showcase are part of our increased focus on international working, in response to feedback from the Literature sector in 2015’s sector review.

“That consultation has helped shape our Arts and Creative Industries Strategies and we thank everyone who has contributed to this work so far.  We look forward to continuing this work with Scottish Government, partner agencies and individuals to create the best conditions to support a thriving literature and publishing sector in Scotland and internationally.”

Published 18 months ago, the Literature Sector Review produced a broad spread of recommendations aimed at improving the health of literature in Scotland, sustaining the sector as a vibrant form of cultural expression, and as an important creative industry. The review covered a range of areas including individual writers, the publishing industry, developing readers, and the international promotion and development of Scottish writing.

In addition to the £4m awarded to writers, poets, book festivals, storytellers, publishers and literary organisations, over the last year, to support their work in Scotland and internationally, a number of measures have been undertaken in the past 18 months to help grow the Sector, including:

International Promotion
Developing a strategic approach to the international promotion of Scottish writers and Literature

  • Today’s International Summit has been co-ordinated by LAS, in direct response to a specific recommendation from Creative Scotland’s Literature and Publishing Sector Review, to explore a more strategic approach to the international promotion of Scottish writing and literature.  Dr. Alasdair Allan MSP, Scotland’s Minister for International Development and Europe, will open the event. The aim of the day is to lay the groundwork for a stronger international presence for Scottish literature.

Donald Smith, Vice-Chair of LAS said: The issue of Scotland’s international presence has been discussed a great deal over the years. This Summit marks the first time that the key players will be together in the same space with the same goal of agreeing what needs to be done and how we might work together to do it.”

  • Creative Scotland is partner funding a major new initiative with Writers Centre Norwichand the British Council to promote UK writers and literature organisations overseas.  Launched in September 2016, the online International Literature Showcase is supporting talented upcoming writers with promotional opportunities, new commissions and the development of their international profile.

Developing Talent and Skills

  • In the last financial year, 2015-16, Creative Scotland awarded more than £4million to writers, poets, book festivals, storytellers, publishers and literary organisations to support their work in Scotland and internationally. For further information on Creative Scotland’s support for Literature, languages and publishing please visit, here.
  • Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fundoffers support for individual writers at all stages of their careers.  Awards made this year include Janice Galloway, Kirsty Logan, Amy Liptrot, Ewan Morrison, Merryn Glover, Malachy Tallack and Gordon Meade.
  • The Gavin Wallace Fellowship enables writers to take time out of their usual environment to develop their practice over the course of a year.  Writer Kirsty Logan, who undertook her Fellowship in 2015, commented: “The past year has been absolute bliss. Having the freedom to read, think and explore is truly priceless for a writer. The fellowship came at exactly the right time in my writing life, and I can’t recommend it enough.”
  • Creative Scotland has partnered with the Scottish Review of Books to run the Emerging Critics Mentoring Programme, which was launched with a talk at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August 2016. Between November 2016 and February, 2017, 20 writers looking to break into literary criticism are being mentored in small groups by critics Alan Taylor, Rosemary Goring, David Robinson, Kaite Welsh and Dave Coates. Mentees are receiving guidance on writing literary criticism for print and online platforms and are receiving individual feedback with a view to showcasing their work on a special Emerging Critics section of the Scottish Review of Books website.

Mentee Ian Abbott, commented: “The emerging critics programme is bringing together different voices and practices from inside and outside the field of literature to learn from, share with and challenge each other. It offers the opportunity to reset, refocus and deepen our thinking on what criticism is, could be and how relevant it is; I’m interested in who isn’t represented, the gaps that exist and why some voices are invisible. There is already a generosity and exchange amongst our group and I believe it’s going to produce a series of stimulating debates, new sets of knowledge and a hearty barrel of the unknown.”

Translation

  • Launched in August 2015, the new Translation Fund, delivered by Publishing Scotland, is designed to encourage international publishers to translate works by Scottish writers. The £25,000 fund has already supported the translation of work from authors such as Amy Liptrot, Gavin Francis, Jenni Fagan and Jackie Kay translated into a variety of languages including Spanish, Italian and German amongst others.

Aly Barr, Literature Officer at Creative Scotland, said “The Publishing Scotland translation fund is now attracting applications from leading publishers around the world. The fund forms part of a pathway for international publishers-working in parallel with the annual international publishing fellowship. The fund is the amongst the largest awards schemes for translating books in Britain and positions Scottish publishing as an outwardly facing industry keen to share its stories with the world.”

  • The Fellowship Programme launched in August 2015 with the aim of forging stronger and more strategic links between international and Scottish publishers and agents to discover and acquire the rights to Scottish books.  Developed in partnership between Creative Scotland, Emergents and Publishing Scotland, the programme has engagedeighteen international publishing fellows.
  • The newly established Translation Residency Programme is offering writers the opportunity to take the time to work on the translation of Scottish works.  Delivered by Cove Park in partnership withPublishing Scotland and the British Centre for Literary Translation.  Anne Brauner (Germany) and Clara Pezzuto (Italy) undertook residencies in September 2016 and translated works byScotland based authors – The Nowhere Emporium by Ross Mackenzie and And The Land Lay Still by James Robertson, respectively.
  • In 2017, the Translation Programme will expand to include partnerships with Writers Centre Norwich and University of Glasgow, in addition to a continuing relationship with Publishing Scotland, creating a UK-wide and outward looking programme. Highlights include residential mentoring for translators and poet-poet translation, as well as an increase in the number of translation residencies available.

Advocating for literature

  • Literature Alliance Scotland was awarded £50,000 in April 2016 to undertake a two-year programme of advocacy and networking involving its 26 member organisations (e.g. EIBF, Scottish Poetry Library, Scottish Book Trust, Saltire Society). The programme of activity will be rolled out over the next 18 months and the first output is today’s international summit.

Writer’s Pay

  • Creative Scotland’s recently published Arts Strategy underlines its ambition to improve the financial context in which artists and other creative professionals develop and make their work.  The Strategy has been informed by findings reported in the Literature Sector Review which found that that 81% of Scottish writers who responded to the survey earn below the National Minimum Wage. Together with the Society of Authors in Scotland, and other partners, Creative Scotland is exploring ways to address this issue and encourage organisations representing writers to continue to work closely with the sector in setting  standards  and  terms  of  engagements  for  activities  such as travel,  speaking  engagements, residencies, and publishing  contracts.

Access to literature and support for Scotland’s languages

  • In August 2015, Creative Scotland and the National Libraries of Scotland announced the first Scots Scriever – poet, novelist and playwright, Hamish MacDonald.  Responsible for working with the cultural sector, communities, and in particular, schools across Scotland, the Scriever will work to enhance awareness, understanding and use of Scots.  The Scriever post is also directly complementing Education Scotland’s work through their Scots language co-ordinators to broaden engagement of the Scots language policy.

Notes to Editors

About Creative Scotland 

Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here.  We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life.  We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. For further information about Creative Scotland please visit www.creativescotland.com.  Follow us @creativescots and www.facebook.com/CreativeScotland

Media Contact

Sophie Bambrough
Media Relations and PR Officer, Creative Scotland

D +44 131 523 0015 +44 7916 137 632

E: Sophie.bambrough@CreativeScotland.com

November 23, 2016

Opening Address by Tom Pow at the Literature Sector Review Summit

Tom Pow, poet and writer, gave the introductory address at the Literature Review summit meeting held in The Lighthouse in Glasgow on 30 July 2015. The afternoon meeting was attended by over a hundred people from the literature community across the whole of Scotland. Read Tom’s full address here:

‘I have ten minutes to introduce this hugely complex, thorough and ambitious review. I want to reflect briefly on where we have come from, as well as where we are now and where we might go. This is a rather breathless personal take on that journey.

In 1968, when I went to university, there was not one chair of Scottish literature in the whole of Scotland; one of the reasons perhaps why at the time I could barely tell a MacDiarmid from a McGonagall. Hopefully, the new Scots Scriever and the new Scots Language Policy will help to sort that sort of ignorant nonsense out! I’d never met a living writer and the only way to meet one at university was to import one yourself – Norman MacCaig, Robert Garioch, Alan Jackson and Pete Morgan, the finest performance poet of his and many another generation. It was a time when, as MacCaig commented, Scottish poets were, most commonly, ‘men of sorrow acquainted with Grieve’. Before Liz Lochhead’s Memo for Spring, man and poet in Scotland were almost synonymous terms.

In the suitcase of the Scottish novel, writers tended to be represented by one novel each rather than by a body of work: Sunset Song, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Cone Gatherers. Interesting to note that the film of  Sunset Song, to be premièred in Toronto in September, had its harvest scenes shot in New Zealand – I mean, tell us Robyn Marsack, what can a New Zealand summer offer that a Scottish summer can’t?

Back then again, the ‘literature ecology’ was given oxygen by committed activists – Joy Hendry regularly sold copies of Chapman in the Abbotsford from a postman’s sack (at least that is how I remember it) and engaged passionately with all-comers about Scottish writing. Meanwhile, Callum Macdonald publishing his own imprint and the magazine, Lines Review, was a forerunner of Hamish Whyte and Gerry Cambridge in terms of meticulous standards and steady commitment.

Looking back in this haphazard way, personal hotspots come to mind: among them, Tom Leonard’s first Glasgow poems; the publication of Sorley Maclean’s Selected Poems; the appearance of Lanark; Edwin Morgan’s Sonnets from Scotland; Liz Lochhead’s  Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off: the vibrancy of a culture asserting itself post 1979.  At Polygon, Peter Kravitz was working with Janice Galloway and AL Kennedy and especially James Kelman. Kravitz said later that it had taken him ten years to get Kelman’s voice out of his head.

There were other voices too: Jeff Torrington, Duncan McLean, Agnes Owens, Irvine Welsh – Scotland was finally writing itself. At the same time, Canongate Classics was turning the suitcase of the Scottish novel into shelf upon shelf. Moreover, different kinds of hotspots were coming into being – ones that reflected confidence and that gave support: the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the Scottish Storytelling Centre, the Scottish Poetry Library. All of these organisations – the RFOs – in fact, every bloody hotspot you can think of – has depended on vision, generosity and sheer stubbornness. Such were qualities Tessa Ransford had in abundance. She is gravely unwell. I’m sure such a wide gathering of all concerned with Scottish writing would want to pass to her today their thanks for her contribution to Scotland as poet and activist.

It takes acknowledgement of where we have come from to recognise that we are in the middle of a significant hotspot right now. All of the above organisations have expanded their horizons – the number of book festivals has grown, a potential tourist trail from Edinburgh to Ullapool, from Dundee to Melrose, from Wigtown to Shetland, and from Shetland back to Stirling. Bloody Scotland? Aye Write! The Scottish Book Trust has also grown, as it keeps butting itself up against the question of what impedes the pleasures and the social advantages of literacy. The Scottish Poetry Library has increased its capacity and collaborated with the Storytelling Centre in interesting ways.  Cove Park, too, is having new work done to offer more opportunity to artists.  The National Library of Scotland continues to expand its work as a world-class institution. And there are new developments: Moniack Mhor is free to pursue its own exciting agenda (Moniack Libre!); The Saltire Society is re-energised under Jim Tough; and Moat Brae in Dumfries is due to open as a National Centre of Children’s Literature and Storytelling in 2017. It will endeavour to be a centre of innovation and engagement as the Glasgow Women’s Library has proved to be. And hurray, the independent bookshop is back!

Live events – Neu! Reekie!, Rally and Broad and Mirror Ball – are attracting a new, younger audience. If you were ever introduced at Forest Café by Ryan Van Winkle, as he necked a bottle of wine, you might be forgiven for thinking of the old saw that ‘poetry (really) is the new rock and roll’. And, as storytelling, traditional and revivalist, has become part of our ‘official’ (i.e. funded, supported) literary culture, so is spoken word now. Musicians frequently share the platform at spoken word events – Aidan Moffat, Withered Hand, King Creosote – bringing a new focus to lyrics, which, from the Border Ballads to Burns’ songs, have always been a vital part of our culture. And so song writing has also been brought, its mention albeit fleeting, into the larger tent of this Review.

Last summer indyref cultural activists, in word, story and song, reached out to the whole of Scotland – as Neu! Reekie’s summer tour is currently doing. One of the attractive ideas of the Review is the questioning of the Central Beltist concept of ‘out reach’. Instead, it is suggested that regional hubs be set up round Scotland with various kinds of expertise. Connection! Co-ordination! Collaboration! – three significant watchwords within the Review. (They need to be verbs.)

Thankfully, we live in a literary culture now where you don’t need to be dead to be appreciated – though it still helps. The New Writers Scheme run by the Scottish Book Trust produces writers who seem to be born with reputations – Billy Letford, Kirsty Logan, Malachy Tallach, Claire Askew. While at the same time, writers like Ali Smith, Kathleen Jamie, AL Kennedy, Jackie Kay, Louise Welsh – and let’s throw in a token James Robertson and Andrew O’Hagan, now flying a flag of his choice in the Booker long-list – have growing international reputations. That’s not to mention our global brands of Alexander McCall Smith, JK Rowling, Ian Rankin and the Tartan Noires.

Meanwhile, established publishers such as Birlinn, Canongate and Luath, have been joined by the fresher faces of Freight, Cargo, Vagabond Press and current Scottish Publisher of the Year, Sandstone Press. Our publishers respond to the challenges of the digital market place with vigour and imagination, while continuing to produce beautiful, distinctive books, in all three of Scotland’s languages, supported by a more internationally aware Publishing Scotland and Gaelic Books Council. In fact, I think the international section of the Review, with its comparative studies, and call for greater focus on translation, will be one of the most interesting sections of the Review for many here today. The Review comments on all of this, while advocating that the sector needs further re-scoping beyond traditional models to include new digital possibilities of storytelling and collaboration within the ‘creative industries’.

Something that struck me forcefully, engaging with the Review with the members of the steering group, is that it is consciously democratic. It takes writers at all levels, and readers at all levels, seriously. It respects the needs of the child reader and of the young writer; it considers the needs of the commercially published writer and those of the self-published writer; it considers those committed to print and those seeking new platforms. Funding apart, the Review does not preference one literature worker over another – whether working for a literary organisation or reading to a child at night, each is engaged, at some level, with the business of fostering a love of reading and of developing the imagination.

Similarly, it is recognised that publishing, whether a best-seller or a kitchen table pamphlet, can be motivated by a similar passion and desire to share what is considered worthwhile; though again obviously the financial implications are of a different order. This democratic emphasis does not come from nowhere – it comes from all those consulted in the making of the Review; in other words, from many of you here today.

Again, back in the day, my contemporaries – Liz Lochhead, Ron Butlin, Brian McCabe, Andrew Greig and Alan Spence – were from the first generation to make a bare living working in schools. Now, writers are regulars throughout education – from working in primary schools (Itchy Coo! Itchy Coo!), to the numerous Creative Writing Courses at our universities – but also in hospitals, retirement homes, prisons and in parliament: the report sees many more possibilities for advancing the effectiveness and importance of literature as an agent for social good.

Each time I read the Review I am prompted, as you will be, by fresh thoughts. For example, how to sustain a level of critical debate beyond the universities i.e. in our public outlets. For another example, you may find reference to the Open Project Fund rather too frequent. You may also think that certain projects, such as getting more Scottish writing into schools and libraries, are of such significance to our identity and cultural and educational health that funding for them should come from another source i.e. the Government, rather than by putting further pressure on the highly competitive Open Project Fund. If so, this will involve determined advocacy (by someone…) and, in many ways, the success or failure of the ambitions contained here will be decided by how persuasive the literary community can be in unlocking fresh sources of income.

There may be parts of this Review that you will want to argue with vehemently. But do not do so with suspicion.  We have always been very lucky with our literature teams at Scottish Arts Council and Creative Scotland – Walter Cairns, Jenny Brown, Gavin Wallace and now Jenny Niven with Emma Turnbull and Aly Barr, people who have cared and who do care deeply about the state of literature in Scotland. The consultant team at Nordicity and Drew Wylie have worked with energy, engagement and commitment. This introduction has been shot through with holes, omissions and oversights – all my own work – but I hope you have filled in some of the gaps with examples from your own ‘kist o whistles’.

Lastly, the best way I can think of to describe the Review is as a manifestation of energy – something sparky, electric, challenging to control. Chris Grieve had to invent Hugh MacDiarmid so that he could both praise and fight with himself. When Alan Jackson, in 1971, published ‘The Knitted Claymore’, his essay on culture and nationalism, he had to write a letter to The Scotsman himself to create a puff of argument. Our literary culture today is not one lacking in energy or confidence – we don’t have to artificially create energy, only to shape it and to direct it. This Review offers us prospects of doing that.’

Tom Pow

30 July 2015

 

 

August 20, 2015
Opening Address by Tom Pow at the Literature Sector Review Summit