Engage in the future with Emerging Critics

Presented by Scottish Review of Books in partnership with Creative Scotland

Season 2 of Emerging Critics: The death of the Arts Critic? Don’t write them off so easily.

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.

In 2016, new and developing writers engaged with some of the finest critics working in Scotland today. They developed their skills and helped us to build a stronger future for literary criticism. LISTEN HERE to a Podcast recorded under the Emerging Critics programme.

From 2016: If you are a book lover, you are among friends in a new programme run by Scottish Review of Books in association with Creative Scotland. During the summer, we held a public talk at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Many interested readers came along to hear a panel discuss the future of the critic and support the book coverage that is much required and matters to so many. And, almost 100 of you who are writing, or would like to write reviews, for print or online, applied for a place on the Emerging Critics mentoring programme.

Scottish Review of Books are currently delivering the Emerging Critics programme in partnership with Creative Scotland. We are grateful to the following for funding this ambitious pilot programme: Creative Scotland; The John S Cohen Foundation; The Edwin Morgan Trust;  New Park Educational TrustThe Northwood Charitable TrustThe Scottish Graduate School for Arts and HumanitiesDr David Summers Charitable Trust. And for their continuing support in kind, the Saltire Society. Without their support this would not happen.

In due course, we will report back on what the programme has achieved, let you read some of the new writing and look ahead to the future.

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