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Growing Scotland’s Literature and Publishing Sector

Published: 23 Nov 2016

Ahead of her appearance at an international literature summit, our Head of Literature, Languages and Publishing Jenny Niven provides an update on Creative Scotland’s work to support Scotland’s Literature and Publishing Sector since the publication of our Literature and Publishing Review.

Jenny Niven

The Literature Alliance Scotland’s International Summit is taking place at Edinburgh’s Storytelling Centre as part of Book Week Scotland. Jenny explains:

“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, supporting their work in Scotland and internationally, a number of measures have been undertaken in the past 18 months to help grow the Sector. These include:

International Promotion

Today’s International Summit has been co-ordinated by Literature Alliance Scotland (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 Norwich and 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. See further information on Creative Scotland’s support for literature, languages and publishing.

Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund offers 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 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 engaged 18 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. It is delivered by Cove Park in partnership with Publishing Scotland and the British Centre for Literary Translation. Anne Brauner (Germany) and Clara Pezzuto (Italy) undertook residencies in September 2016 and translated works by Scotland-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 were awarded £50,000 in April 2016 to undertake a two-year programme of advocacy and networking involving its 26 member organisations (including 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 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 addition to our ongoing and extensive support for Gaelic language and Gaelic arts, 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.

Media Contact

Sophie Bambrough, Media Relations and PR Officer, Creative Scotland
Tel: +44 131 523 0015
Mobile: +44 7916 137 632
Email: Sophie.bambrough@CreativeScotland.com