£50k funding announced for UK and international literature projects
National Centre for Writing and British Council award funding as part of the International Literature Showcase

The National Centre for Writing (NCW) and British Council has announced today that they will award over £50,000 in seed funding to collaborative projects between UK and international literature organisations and practitioners, as part of the International Literature Showcase (ILS).

The ILS is a three-year partnership between NCW and British Council, supported by Arts Council England and Creative Scotland, which showcases talented writers based in the UK to programmers, publishers, and teachers of literature in English around the world. Between 2019-2021 five leading writers – Elif Shafak, Val McDermid, Jackie Kay, Owen Sheers and Kei Miller – were each invited to curate a showcase of 10 writers working in the UK today. Explore their lists

The ILS Collaboration Fund was established to further the impact of the ILS showcase, support international collaboration, and aid the research and development of news ways of working in the literature sector. It was open to all UK and international participants of the programme.

Peggy Hughes, Programme Director at NCW, said:

‘We’re particularly pleased and excited, emerging from these challenging and strange eighteen months, to reveal the projects coming out of the International Literature Showcase. Facilitating the export of the best new talent from the UK and promoting the international exchange of writers, artists and practitioners is the very heart of this collaboration with the British Council, and the projects selected are a strong testament to the ambition, imagination and innovation of our brilliant participants.’

Sinead Russell, Director Literature at the British Council said:

‘We are thrilled to partner with the National Centre for Writing to support this wonderful array of international collaborations between writers, festivals, academics and literature organisations. Echoing the British Council’s wider work, these projects will provide space for UK writers and their overseas counterparts to develop new ways of working, to share their creative practice, and to participate in vital conversations about urgent global issues, in a spirit of mutuality and equality. This will encourage new business models and grow international audiences, exemplifying the spirit of collaboration fostered by the International Literature Showcase.’

Hazel Edwards, South East Area Director at Arts Council England, said:

‘It’s really exciting to learn about the projects that have been developed as a result of the International Literature Showcase. It is wonderful to see so many talented writers from the UK work in partnership with people from around the world and I look forward to seeing these collaborations develop.’

Funded projects include:

  • A collaboration between the African Writers Trust (Uganda) and New Writing North (UK), combining a digital residency and workshops programme for writers in both countries aged between 18 – 25 to produce new writing and share skills and experiences.
  • Workshops on innovation in the publishing sector featuring UK professionals as part of Tbilisi World Book Capital’s professional programme (Georgia).
  • Mentoring sessions and other development opportunities for emerging playwrights in Malaysia led by UK writers.
  • A collaboration between Words of Colour Productions (UK) and the Irish Writers Centre (Ireland) to bring together young people of colour in both countries to explore creative careers and entrepreneurship.
  • Creative correspondence between writers in Japan and the UK led by Kyoto Writers Residency (Japan), culminating in a dual language anthology.
  • A collaboration between Jaylay Gomei (Sierra Leone) and Beyond the Border Festival (Wales, UK), connecting storytellers in both countries and leading to a series of video clips that will be showcased online and at festivals.

All projects will take place in innovative hybrid formats, exploring new ways to share ideas, skills and stories face to face and online.

‘Our hope is that this project will deliver the much-needed direction in terms of continuity of practice and innovation for creatives in Uganda.’

Diana Santiago, Director of the Kujiezela Wall, who is collaborating with Words of Colour Productions, said:

‘As an organisation that seeks to provide safe spaces for creative expression, the ILS programme opened for the Kujieleza Wall a gateway to international networks and collaborations which have since become a pool of resources for the work that we do.

‘Through the ILS Fund we will be able to respond to one of the critical issues in the creative community here in Uganda and that for us has been Entrepreneurship. We are excited to be partnering with Ms. Joy Francis of Words of Colour Productions from the UK on this. Our hope is that this project will deliver the much-needed direction in terms of continuity of practice and innovation for creatives in Uganda.’

The learning from all the funded projects will be shared on the National Centre for Writing website and via British Council networks over the coming year.  Find out more about the International Literature Showcase here.

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