Season 2 of Emerging Critics has now come to an end and through it we are delighted to have encouraged a new generation of critics who are skilled, professional and experimental, and able to bring a higher level of critical analysis to their reviewing.
Our 2018/19 Mentors: Andrew Crumey, Rosemary Goring, Allan Hunter, Allan Radcliffe, David Robinson, Laura Waddell
The programme included a half day seminar and small-group mentoring over a 10 month period for those new to criticism, those already working in this field who wanted to improve their knowledge, recent graduates and post graduates and those who simply had a genuine interest. It was offered free of charge to mentees. Mentors are paid a small fee for their time. You can listen to a podcast from the opening seminar right now.
At a time when we have never needed criticism more are our critics losing their voice? Look again. Over the last 15 years over a third of Scots have stopped reading printed daily newspapers. Arts pages have been a casualty of cuts in many of these papers but the Arts themselves – whether that be books, music, performing arts or visual arts — are robust.
In 2016/17, on the pilot course, we focussed the energies of Emerging Critics on Literary criticism. This year we widened this out to cover all aspects of Arts Criticism.
The arts pages that remain in Scotland are robust and must be cherished – but their presence is shrinking. We are fortunate with the pages in The Herald and The Herald on Sunday, The National and The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday. We have our own Scottish Review of Books, much loved by our readers but our funding for the print editions is in danger, and other occasional literary and arts journals. Regional press including (but by no means only) the Press & Journal and the West Highland Free Press offer regular books coverage. This shrinkage in coverage is felt right across the Arts — the owners of print media do not appear to give value to the critic. But their readers do!
New platforms for criticism are appearing and print media critics are enjoying a new audience. Critics with many years of experience of print and broadcast journalism are making the transition to online spaces – whether they be digital visitors or inhabitants, or indeed commissioners, writers or managers – with instant access to the public. Many of the online voices sharing in this vital exchange are new or newly liberated from more traditional platforms. They have something to share. Something fresh and fun in their approach. But online content is often unedited and unaccountable. Does that matter? Or will the intelligent reader seek out the criticism they want to read?
We want to support emerging critics and give them a safe space to develop their skills. Through this course they learn from the very best of Scotland’s Arts journalists and share ideas, discover opportunities.