Representing Wales: Literature Wales’ Professional Development
for Under-represented Writers
The second round of Literature Wales’ professional development programme for writers, Representing Wales, has been launched, with the aim of seeing writers from low-income backgrounds reach their long-term writing ambitions.
Literature Wales wants the literary culture of Wales to truly represent the variety and diversity of the population. There are still substantial differences in equality of opportunity to access and participate in culture, and many writers from low-income backgrounds have faced significant barriers in the literature and publishing industry. Many recent reports, including ‘A Room of My Own’ by The Royal Society of Literature and ‘Social mobility in the creative economy’ by the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre, have cited that career opportunities in the creative industries are far greater for those from privileged backgrounds. By targeting its support towards those from low-income backgrounds, Literature Wales aims to give individuals who may not have had the financial security to consider a literary career the opportunity to develop their creative practice.
Representing Wales is a 12-month programme, funded by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of Wales, developed to improve representation within the literature sector in Wales. The first edition of the Representing Wales programme, launched in 2020, focused on writers of colour.
Daniel Howell, a member of the cohort from the first round of Representing Wales: “Being part of the Representing Wales cohort has really boosted my confidence in my future writing career. I now better understand my options in tackling the publishing world, and have made several valuable contacts. It's also a lot of fun having somewhere to discuss the craft with like-minded people.”
The programme will support a cohort of 13 writers to develop their own literary potential. The writers are selected by an independent panel of five literary greats from low-income backgrounds: Tanya Byrne (chair), Connor Allen, Iola Ynyr, Emma-Jane Smith-Barton, and Niall Griffiths.
Tanya Byrne, Chair of the Panel says: “As a brown, queer author from a low-income background myself, I did it the hard way and I'm determined to make the journey easier for new writers. So, after leading a session with last year's cohort, I'm honestly honoured to have been invited back as this year's Chair and look forward to inspiring and promoting writing, books and literacy in Wales.”
The programme includes a financial award of up to £3,500 to help writers take time out to write, attend training sessions and literary events and to support travel expenses. Also included are one-to-one mentoring; monthly workshops and talks; as well as opportunities to network, make new contacts and build relationships with other writers. During the year there will be opportunities to meet experts in the literature and publishing industry in Wales and beyond.
After the 12-month programme, Literature Wales will continue to work with the cohort and with other partners to make sure that they are able to receive the support and advice they need to reach their goals.
Abi Morgan, a mentor from the first round of Representing Wales said: “Wales has a rich legacy of writing talent and what is vital now is that we get a true representation of a country filled with diversity and stories. This programme offers the next generation of writers, from different walks of life, access to mentoring and professional guidance. It’s been a privilege and a pleasure to support this important venture and to nurture a brilliant new talent.”
Representing Wales has been designed in consultation with communities, writers, and consultants from Literature Wales’ extensive networks to address existing barriers within the sector. Over the coming years, Literature Wales will continue to focus on developing and platforming people who are under-represented and who have experienced historical and structural inequalities, racism, ableism, and discrimination.
Lleucu Siencyn, Chief Executive of Literature Wales said: “Literature is a democratic artform, and everyone can benefit from the process of writing or reading creatively. However, a career in creative writing is not available to all. Recent research and our consultation with writers clearly demonstrate that economic disparity leads to inequality of opportunity. We need to work hard across the sector to level the playing field. Nothing can quite compete with the confidence that economic security can give, but we hope that the 13 writers who will benefit from Representing Wales will gain the tools, insight and information needed to boost their confidence and reach their writing ambitions.”
Applications for the second edition of Representing Wales opened on Tuesday 26 October 2021, and the deadline for applications is 5.00 pm Tuesday 14 December 2021. The programme will begin in March 2022 and run until the end of February 2023.