Special Guest Northern Highlight - Creative Scotland
As part of the Literature Team at Creative Scotland we work with both organisations and individuals, helping applicants understand the criteria of funding available and how it could support their work. Our wonderful Enquiries team are the first port of call, passing along resources or directing potential applicants to other more suitable funding. We support at the pre-application stage through calls or emails and later discuss feedback with unsuccessful applicants. We’re then involved in assessing applications and reviewing them as part of a panel (alongside colleagues from different artform specialisms) and assisting projects once they are funded.
We also provide FAQ-style information and highlight projects which have received funding through our Medium blog. Our team has a network of Regularly Funded Organisations, helping support and champion their work and ensuring they are delivering their annual targets and planned programming.
In addition to all that, we develop strategic programmes as a group and in collaboration with other Creative Scotland artform teams. Some recent programmes include the Scottish Book Festivals Network and the annual international literature delegates programme Momentum, which is a partnership with the British Council, Edinburgh Festivals Group, and the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
Can you tell us about the funding that is available for writers and illustrators living in Scotland?
The main source is the Open Fund for Individuals, which is self-directed and has a rolling deadline. The writer or illustrator determines what they want to do, how long for, and how much funding they need to accomplish the project well. All artforms are reviewed at panel against one big central pot of funding. We are often asked if we fund time to write, and we absolutely do! Funding for time to develop new work, whether solo or in collaboration with others, and whether intended for performance in front of an audience or completing a full draft of a piece. You can apply for funding to buy your time to explore new ideas, research, or finish a project.
We recently announced some changes to make the application process more accessible and streamlined. Information about the new Open Fund can be found here and we’re holding some free online open sessions which can be booked here. The sessions include FAQs, a digital walkthrough of the new system, as well as a Q&A with Creative Scotland Officers.
There are also targeted funds with specific deadlines such as the Nurturing Talent fund, Stay See Share and Create: Inclusion, so keep an eye on the website for announcements and eligibility.
What support or opportunities do you provide for children’s writers and illustrators?
One of our targeted programmes is Our Voices, in partnership with the Association of Scottish Literary Agents (ASLA), connecting writers from under-represented communities with professional feedback on their work at an early stage. We have some agent specialism in children and YA publishing so would encourage authors writing for those age categories to apply.
We also support the Gavin Wallace Fellowship, which is intended to support mid-career and established writers, allowing a writer time to create work rather than deliver creative workshops or other project-based activities. The fellowship includes bespoke training and development as well as a £20,000 stipend. While not specific to children’s writing, our 2020 fellow Maisie Chan is a wonderful children’s author and reflects on her experience here. Keep an eye on Creative Scotland’s website and our Medium blog for the next round’s opening date for applications.
For illustrators, we’re developing a programme of panels and networking sessions within the comics and graphic novel community. There should be ample opportunity for children’s illustrators to get involved so keep an eye out for an exciting announcement soon!
How important is networking in Scotland?
We’re fortunate to have a wonderfully intimate community but I think we’re also very welcoming to new people. With the digital and hybrid innovations of the past year or so we’ve been able to connect with an even wider range of people, especially in terms of regional diversity and those who may not have been able to access the community previously for disability or income reasons. There are some fantastic organisations connecting creators such as Literature Alliance Scotland, Open Book, and Scottish BAME Writers Network to name a few.
What for you is the 'spirit’ of Scotland?
I’ve lived in Scotland on-and-off for the past ten years, and what impressed me from the start was people’s generosity of spirit. Most folks I’ve interacted with are keen to share their time, skills, resources, and connections and I’ve felt such warmth and invitation into the communities here. There’s a fierce pride in everything we do, as well as a willingness to find beauty in unexpected places, and to evolve and grow. We continue to challenge ourselves and others to affect positive change.
The Literature Team at Creative Scotland
Who for you are the great Scottish children’s writers and illustrators?
Scotland has such a wonderful tradition of children’s writers and illustrators such as Julia Donaldson, Mairi Hedderwick, J.M. Barrie, Kenneth Graham, and Robert Louis Stevenson. There are some beautiful and creative illustrators working today including Catherine Rayner and Morag Hood, as well as emergent illustrators such as Maria Herbert-Liew and Eilidh Muldoon.
I’m also very excited by the work happening right now by authors who are not only producing fantastic writing which challenges traditional publishing, but also fostering their local writing communities by uplifting those voices and providing opportunities. Authors such as Maisie Chan, Nadine Aisha Jassat, and Dean Atta are just a handful whose writing and outreach work I would recommend exploring.
Why is it so important that we continue to promote children's books in Scotland?
I may be biased as I have a background as a children’s bookseller, but I am consistently inspired by the passion of the community in putting ground-breaking high-quality literature into the hands of young readers. Teachers, publishers, booksellers and more facilitate this. Speaking with readers about stories which transport them, as well as the non-fiction which broadens their horizons is a privilege. Children’s books also have the unique joy of accompanying readers throughout their childhood and teenage years, and I truly believe that’s where some of the most exciting publishing is happening. Scotland has such a wealth of classic children’s books as well as fresh new voices and I would love for even more people to discover and invest in it.
What would you like to see from children's publishing in Scotland?
We’re so lucky to already have so many children and YA lists from publishers in Scotland, alongside programming for young readers from our plethora of festivals. I would love for children’s publishing in Scotland to gain the same international reach and recognition as other literary areas, such as Tartan Noir. As always, I’d love to see even more inclusive and representative publishing, not only in terms of authors and their works, but also professionals working in children’s books in Scotland.