Creative Scotland and Scottish Review of Books have for the second time round requested submissions for their Emerging Critics programme, which provides a mentoring opportunity to enable an new generation of reviewers in Scotland.

Jan Rutherford from the Scottish Review of Books spoke with The Fountain about the change in programme, the programme in more detail and who it is geared towards.

TF: What is concept behind the Emerging Critics programme?

Our aim with Emerging Critics is to help equip and energise a new generation of Arts critics in Scotland ­– a generation who are skilled, professional and experimental, whether they are writing for print or digital platforms. With the dwindling space available for arts criticism in newspapers many of our key journalists are moving on. Emerging Critics offers an opportunity for transfer of skills from one generation to another. Key journalists will work with new writers to help them develop core skills and bring a higher level of critical analysis to online paltforms. But equally, those writing now for digital media can transfer skills to those who are not digital natives.

TF: And this is now the second time you have sent a call out for submissions, is there anything you are changing from the first programme, any lessons learned?

In the first year of the programme we worked only with literary critics. This year we are widening that out to those interested in performance – theatre, film, dance, music – and visual arts as well as books. We are also extending the period of mentoring to ten months and starting the programme with a half-day seminar.

TF: What is it that you are looking for from the applicants?

We want people with a genuine thirst for knowledge and learning – be they interested amateurs, post graduate students or graduates who are new to reviewing, those who have done a little reviewing online and want to up their game or those who have lost their platform and are looking for something new.

TF: How long does the programme last and what does it entail for the successful applicants?

We are offering ten months of small group mentoring with an experienced arts critic or commissioning editor. This will involve occasional meetings and set writing and reading projects with feedback from the mentor. It is definitely something that mentees can fit around their normal routine but they must be willing to dedicate time to the completion of the tasks set by mentors and attend meetings whenever possible. It is free to participate and a hugely valuable experience so we ask that those with any doubt about finding the time to complete the writing and reading exercises set think twice before applying. We will start the programme with a half-day seminar to introduce the themes we will be looking at and meet and exchange ideas.

TF: How did it help the careers of the previous successful applicants, how does it aid in this line of career?

We have had very positive feedback from the pilot programme, which ran in 2016/17. We are realistic and hope mentees too will be realistic about the opportunities that are available at present. Making a full, well-paid career out of arts criticism is getting harder and harder. What we do hope is that we will equip writers to make the most of the opportunities that are available right now and that they will also go and out and develop new platforms of their own, writing to the highest possible standards.

The application submission deadline for the Emerging Critics programme is 14th March, to do so click here.