A collective voice for literature and languages in Scotland

Tenders invited for cultural development of 15th century John Knox House

The Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust is calling today (25 September 2020) for architects and designers to bring their expertise and creativity and enter a competitive tender process to work with the Trust to create a Literature House for Scotland at John Knox House in Edinburgh.

The development at John Knox House would be part of a wider ambition to enhance the Literary Quarter around the Netherbow area of the Royal Mile and invest in and develop the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

Ali Bowden, Director of the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, said:

“We’re excited and pleased to be entering this next stage in our long-term cultural development plan for John Knox House and the Scottish Storytelling Centre. We’re looking for a really excellent and inspiring design team to work with, and people who understand how special the location is and how important these buildings are to Edinburgh. Once the team is appointed, our priority will be to complete some feasibility work so that in 2021 we will be able to present detailed ideas for the future of John Knox House and the Scottish Storytelling Centre. Working together with the Church of Scotland (who own both buildings), the City of Edinburgh Council, Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland, and the local community, our hope is that we will transform the way Scotland understands its literary story by reinvigorating this magnificent and historic building and giving it a new purpose as Scotland’s first Literature House.”

The Church of Scotland’s Chief Officer, Dave Kendall, welcomed the next stage of the Literature House project and said:

“The proposal to create a Literature House for Scotland at John Knox House has great potential and we welcome the energy and vision which has brought the project to this stage. The production of a high-quality feasibility study is a critical step in ensuring that the project is set up for success and I am really looking forward to the next steps in the journey as the project moves forwards starting with the all-important preparatory phase.”

Dr Donald Smith Chief Executive of TRACS said:

“As the lead programme partner at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, TRACS is delighted to support the Literature House vision for John Knox House. It will bring new profile to the area as a showcase for Scotland’s culture, and as a hub for creatives and learners alike, locally, nationally and internationally.”

Cllr Donald Wilson, City of Edinburgh Council Culture and Communities Convener, said:

“We welcome this next step in this ambitious project to further develop this place to discover Edinburgh’s literary heritage and contemporary creativity, and learn more about our incredible storytellers, and writers.”

Cllr Amy McNeese-Mechan, City of Edinburgh Council Culture and Communities Vice-Convener, added:

“In addition to the benefits for literature and a literary quarter in the city, looking to the future role of the historic John Knox House is a positive statement of cultural ambition and intent in these challenging times.”

Ruth Plowden, Chair of Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, said:

“The creation of Scotland’s first Literature House is a bold and fitting development for the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature. Our hope is that this new space will provide a home for our literary story, be a catalyst to develop the wider area, and offer a year-round welcome to everyone in the city.”

The Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust is working with RIAS Consultancy to tender for a design team through public procurement. The notice for the Tender can be found at www.cityofliterature.com

The Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust gratefully acknowledges the support of the City of Edinburgh Council, the Architectural Heritage Fund and Edinburgh World Heritage.

-Ends-

NOTES TO EDITOR

Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust is the development agency for Edinburgh as a UNESCO City of Literature. It works to bring literature to the streets of Edinburgh, involving people in the city’s literary life, bringing organisations to work together collaboratively for greater impact, and sharing Edinburgh’s literary story with the world. cityofliterature.com @EdinCityofLit edinburgh@cityofliterature.com

UNESCO City of Literature Designation: In 2004 Edinburgh was designated the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, a permanent title celebrating Edinburgh’s status as a literary capital and pioneer in the UNESCO creative cities network, which now has 246 member cities in seven creative artforms. The concept of a City of Literature was devised in Edinburgh by the Trust’s founding members and there are now 39 UNESCO Cities of Literature in the world.

We see the Literature House as being the home of Edinburgh’s literary story, providing a year-round welcome with information, ideas and inspiration to help individuals connect with Edinburgh as a literary city, and Scotland as a literary nation. This is the place to discover Scotland’s literary heritage and contemporary creativity, and learn more about our incredible books, storytellers, and writers.

The Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust gratefully acknowledges the support of the City of Edinburgh Council, and thanks the donors and partners who make our work possible. The Literature House project is led by Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust in partnership with the Scottish Storytelling Centre and TRACS. It is supported by the City of Edinburgh Council, the Church of Scotland, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University, The Saltire Society, Scottish Book Trust and The List.

For further information please contact: Frances Sutton, Garron Communications via francessutton@garroncommunications.com or 07841 579481

Reproduced from the Edinburgh City of Literature Trust press release.

September 25, 2020

Edinburgh City of Literature seeks new Trustees

Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust is looking to appoint two to three enthusiastic new Board members with particular experience in one or more of the following: finance, large-scale building projects, community engagement, and human resources.

They want their Board and programme of work to have broad representation and welcome applications from across all communities.

Are you interested in being part of the leadership of the City of Literature and supporting the creation of a Literature House for Scotland in Edinburgh? Are you inspired by Edinburgh being the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, a pioneer in an international network of Creative Cities spanning the globe? Apply by 5pm on Friday 3 July 2020.

It is their aim for new appointees, once approved, to formally take up their post from September 2020, for a period of up to three years. The posts are not remunerated but some expenses are covered as per the Board Members’ Expenses Policy.

Their Trustee Information Pack contains information about the role, requirements and the application process. Please download this pack here or contact edinburgh@cityofliterature.com.  For information about the Trust and the Board please visit the Board section of their website.

 

June 16, 2020

Celebrating Dame Sarah Elizabeth Siddons Mair on International Women’s Day 2018

Dame Sarah Elizabeth Siddons Mair honoured at Edinburgh home with plaque installation

In 2016 the City of Literature Trust nominated Dame Sarah Siddons Mair to receive a plaque as part of the Commemorative Plaque Scheme run by Historic Environment Scotland. Today, on International Women’s Day, her plaque was installed at 29 Abercromby Place, where she was born, to commemorate her life and work towards promoting women’s education and suffrage.

Born in 1846, Mair was the great-great granddaughter of the actress Sarah Siddons, who was best known for her portrayal of Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth. Sarah Siddons Mair carved a name of her own, however, as one of the most central figures in the Scottish women’s movement. She was a lifetime advocate for women’s education and suffrage, known for her work as a writer, reviewer, editor, and campaigner.

At the young age of 19, she was the founder and president of the Ladies’ Edinburgh Debating Society, which offered Edinburgh women the chance to practice speaking in public, acquire debating skills, whilst also exploring social issues. She would later go on to help found the Edinburgh Association for the University Education of Women, and become president of the Edinburgh National Society for Women’s Suffrage in 1907.

Mair is also known for her work in promoting higher education for women, and notoriously founded St George’s High School for Girls in 1888. We were lucky enough to be joined by current pupils and teachers from the school, who read extracts from her work, as well as the Royal Scots Club, who organised a lunch in her honour.

The unveiling of Mair’s plaque in the New Town came about as a result of the Commemorative Plaque scheme run by Historic Environment Scotland. The Trust nominated three female writers deserving of such commemorations in back in 2016; all of whom were chosen. The other recipients included Dorothy Emily Stevenson, an avid novelist, and Susan Ferrier, widely recognized as ‘the Scottish Jane Austen’. Last year, two further nominated female writers were also chosen to receive plaques: Mary Brunton and Christian Isobel Johnstone.

Siân Bevan, Programme Manager at Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust said: “The plaques are a great reminder of the vibrant women writers who make up the incredible literary history of Edinburgh. Some of them may have, for one reason or another, fallen out of the public’s memory so it’s fantastic to have plaques in public spaces which might encourage folk to find out more about their remarkable life and works.”

This year, we look forward to the installation of a further two plaques commemorating the lives of Mary Brunton and Christian Isobel Johnstone. For more information about both women, explore the Women Writers’ page on the Edinburgh City of Literature website.

– ENDS –

For further information please contact:

Rebecca Raeburn, Communications Assistant, City of Literature Trust

rebecca@cityofliterature.com or 0131 557 9850

 

March 8, 2018