The Edinburgh International Book Festival have announced the next phase of their year-round programme taking the Book Festival On The Road, which will see Eleanor Thorn become Citizen Community Writer-in-Residence who will work in partnership with WHALE Arts in Wester Hailes.
Following on from the extremely successful ReimagiNation series across Scotland’s five New Towns, Citizen is a new long-term creative programme working in partnership with organisations across Edinburgh, listening to people’s views about the communities in which they live. Led by Scottish-based writers-in-residence, Citizen aims to give a voice to communities, offering residents an opportunity to explore their connection to each other and their relationship to their local area, looking at how local conversations are heard or echoed on a national or global level.
After an open recruitment process, Claire Askew has been appointed as the Citizen Schools Writer-in-Residence and will be working with three secondary schools including Liberton High School and Craigroyston Community High School. Claire is a poet and novelist and her debut novel All the Hidden Truths featured in the Book Festival programme this year. Eleanor Thom has been appointed as the Citizen Community Writer-in-Residence and will be working through North Edinburgh Arts with groups living and working in the north of the city as well as in partnership with WHALE Arts Agency (Wester Hailes) and Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre (Moredun). Eleanor, a novelist (The Tin-Kin) and short form fiction writer, will be meeting regularly with local people from a variety of backgrounds and of all ages to hold creative conversations about what being a citizen today means. The writers-in-residence will work with a host of fellow writers, musicians, illustrators and other artists to inspire community members and school pupils to tell their stories of life in their areas, and share their views on community, home and their relationship to the wider world.
The importance of projects that ‘twin’ educational settings with cultural ones cannot be underestimated: I am excited to work with young people from around Edinburgh to find out how they look at reading, writing and arts events. I’m excited to support them as they take ownership of these things and look at ways to bring their creative expression to a wider audience. I’m looking forward to working in communities where engagement with books and creative writing can be boosted by empowering their young people to spread the word about their own creations and discoveries. – Claire Askew
In collaboration with North Edinburgh Arts, local residents will be invited to join a group of Community Programmers who will work closely with Eleanor Thom and the Book Festival. The group will create events showcasing the conversations to community audiences, and curate a special strand of Citizen events at the 2019 Edinburgh International Book Festival, ensuring the voices and concerns of people across the city are heard on the Festival’s international stage.
The most powerful stories are likely happening beyond the geography of the festival and exploring these narratives can transform how we all see our city, ourselves, and others. That’s why Citizen is important. I’ll be asking what kinds of stories people want to hear, as well as listening to the stories people want to tell. I’m motivated by my belief that sharing stories can effect change, and I’m excited to be part of making the festival more representative. – Eleanor Thom
The same group will work to create a mini Book Festival to be held in North Edinburgh Arts in May 2020, which responds to the ideas developed across the previous eighteen months of the programme. Citizen will continue until August 2021 and will draw in communities in and around Musselburgh with the support of the Brunton Theatre. We will share regular updates from these community conversations on social media and at ontheroad.edbookfest.co.uk, enabling more people from the city and beyond to get involved in the discussions.
Citizen is part of Edinburgh International Book Festival On The Road, a series of events and activities around Scotland throughout the year, and is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and through the PLACE Programme (funded by the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council, and the Edinburgh Festivals, and supported and administered by Creative Scotland).
Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:
Citizen is a fantastic opportunity to reach communities across Scotland and give them a chance to explore the relationship with the place they live in, building links and connecting ‘local’ with ‘global’. Working in partnership with organisations across Edinburgh and beyond, this programme is sure to stimulate debate and intrigue audiences, raising Scotland’s cultural profile on the international stage.
The Edinburgh International Book Festival has long been a highlight in the Edinburgh Festivals’ calendar, bringing together the world’s finest authors and the best of Scotland’s creative talent. In the last 10 years the Scottish government has provided more than £1.1 million to the Book Festival through our Expo Fund, and I am now pleased that we are able to provide further support through our recently launched PLACE fund, which will provide an additional £15 million to enhance of all Edinburgh’s Festivals over the next five years.