A collective voice for literature and languages in Scotland

LAS appoints Jenny Niven as new Chair

The Board of Trustees of Literature Alliance Scotland (LAS) is delighted to announce the appointment of Jenny Niven as its new Chair.

The appointment was unanimously approved by the LAS Board following an open recruitment process and Ms Niven will begin her three-year term in the role from the beginning of August 2021.

Jenny Niven said: “I am delighted and honoured to be taking up the role of Chair of Literature Alliance Scotland. Scottish literature and languages is full of talent and expertise, both in terms of individual writers, practitioners and producers, but also in the numerous internationally recognised organisations and institutions who all sit round the LAS table. I’m looking forward to working with so many respected friends and colleagues and to playing a role in championing our collective voice, while working to understand the needs of Scotland’s writers and organisations as we rebuild post-Covid.

“We’re in interesting times, to say the least, and we need strong representation for the role of the arts across society and the vital contribution made by writers and professionals in the sector. Literature has always played an exciting role in how we tell our stories and there are lots of possibilities and challenges ahead, from Scotland’s Year of Stories to harnessing digital to showcase and promote Scottish writing in a new era internationally. With LAS’ recent brilliant work in recognising the diversity of writing in Scotland and creating real talent development platforms, there is plenty to do; I feel privileged to be entrusted to get started and to play a part in our collective rebuilding effort at this crucial time.”

Jenny Niven is a highly regarded and well-known figure operating within the literature, languages and publishing sector. As a freelance producer and director, she is the director of Push the Boat Out, a new festival of poetry, spoken word and hip hop, which launches for the first time in Edinburgh in October 2021. She is also Executive Producer at the Edinburgh International Culture Summit Foundation and a sought-after chair for literature events, having interviewed a wealth of leading authors worldwide.

From 2014-2019, Jenny was Head of Literature, Languages and Publishing at Creative Scotland, where she provided strategic guidance across the sector, and fostered investment in hundreds of organisations and writers. During her time at Creative Scotland, Jenny led in the creation of the sectoral review of Literature and Publishing in Scotland, the Muriel Spark 100 Centenary celebrations in 2018, and Creative Scotland’s first Scots Language Policy.

In 2016, Jenny led the Edinburgh International Book Festival organisation on secondment as Acting Director over the winter months of 16/17, winning the festival a Herald Angel Award for the ground-breaking ‘Outriders’ program.

Jenny has worked internationally, as Associate Director at the Wheeler Centre for Books Writing and Ideas, Program Manager at the Melbourne Writers Festival and inaugural Director of The Bookworm International Literary Festival, in Beijing, China. She was also on the founding Board of the Stella Prize for Australian Women’s Writing and has judged a range of literary prizes.

Out-going Chair Peggy Hughes has been in the role since May 2017, leading the development of LAS to where it is now recognised as a vital connector between the organisations in the literature, languages and publishing ecosystem.

During her four-year term, Peggy has overseen the creation of a “life changing” career development programme, a series of challenging writer commissions, a new Writers’ Advisory Group and a host of professional development and networking opportunities for members and the wider sector at LAS meetings and events. Not to mention pivoting the programme to online and advocating for the sector throughout the pandemic.

Peggy Hughes, who will stand down as a Trustee at the AGM in the Autumn, said: “Scotland’s ecosystem of literature and languages is a rich, breathing, inspiring place to be, and it’s been my honour and pleasure to chair this network of organisations and practitioners working with and for it. The past 18 months have brought huge challenges and changes to the literature and creative sectors at large, but the Literature Alliance Scotland network has shown that innovation, imagination, resilience and collaboration can help us navigate the stormiest waters.

“Collectively, our priority is to ensure that our brilliant writers and readers, librarians and teachers, play makers and festival builders remain connected, that their work is amplified, that they are able to lean on and learn from each other, and Jenny Niven is a superlative Chair for the times we’re in, and for a network which creates the conditions ‘where the hammer hits the stane an sparks / ur made’ (as William Letford has it in his poem ‘This Is It’). I look forward very much to the next chapter of the story of this brilliant network under her leadership.”

 

 

July 14, 2021

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

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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