Friday, 9 March 2018

Colonial Countryside: Ten New Creative Commissions

Charlecote Park, Warwickshire
10 new creative writing commissions at £1,200 each for 'Colonial Countryside: English Country Houses Reinterpreted.'

About the project

Colonial Countryside is a child-led writing and history project about National Trust houses' Caribbean and East India Company connections. Steered by a child advisory board, this three-year project assembles authors, historians, and primary school pupils to commission, resource and publish new writing. 

One hundred primary children will visit ten National Trust properties and craft new writing, presenting it to live, print, and digital audiences. They will present their work at a conference during the Literary Leicester festival in November 2018. 

The majority of children will be of Caribbean or South Asian heritage and this project will encourage them to think of themselves as public figures who will reshape the national narrative and make this history widely known.

Peepal Tree Press will commission ten authors to write about each participating house. The commissioned work will be published in an illustrated "coffee table" style book containing the ten creative commissions accompanied by accessible historical commentaries written by experts in the field. Commissioned writers will give inaugural readings and appear at literary festivals and black history events nationwide.

The National Trust has over five million members and the commissioned writing will have a large readership. These ten high-profile commissions are also designed to stimulate a new wave of writing about this topic. In order to resource this, the Colonial Countryside project will create a writers' resource website, delivered by the historical team, and a massive online open course (MOOC), co-produced by children and historians.

The participating country houses are:

1.   Attingham Park, near Shrewsbury
2.   Basildon Parks, near Reading
3.   Buckland Abbey, Devonshire
4.   Calke Abbey, Derbyshire
5.   Charlecote Park, Warwickshire
6.   Osterley Park, West London
7.   Sudbury Hall, Ashbourne, Derbyshire
8.   Wightwick Manor, near Wolverhampton
9.   Penrhyn Castle, Gwynedd, Wales
10. Dyrham Park, near Bristol

About the commissions:

Commissioned writers will be advised by historians who are experts in the field. The participating National Trust properties provide a varied picture of stately homes' colonial links, telling a range of stories about slave-produced wealth, East India Company connections, colonial administrators, black servants, slave-trading voyages, colonial business interests, Victorian plant hunters, and imperial interior design.

Commissioned writers will receive a fee of £1,200 and an allowance of up to £400 to cover research, travel, and accommodation. They will attend a work-in-progress day at the University of Leicester. Public engagement is central to this project. Social media training is available if required (writers will post social media content on the project's behalf or the project manager will post approved content on their behalf). In year three of the project, writers may be asked to give an inaugural reading at the country house featured in their commissioned pieces. Commissioned writers will also be invited to attend literature festivals and black history month events, with expenses paid.

The commissioned work will be published in an illustrated book by Peepal Tree Press. It is also likely to feature in exhibitions in numerous houses throughout the National Trust's Challenging Histories year in 2022.

How to apply and the deadline

The commissioned work will be judged by a team of acclaimed writers and historians, to be assembled by Peepal Tree Press.

Send your commission entry by email to Dr Corinne Fowler Please attach:

A writer's CV 

This should be no longer than one page of A4, font size 12

A proposal

In no more than 700 words, explain why you wish to apply for the commission. You should cover: * your interest in the topic * your experience * your approach to the commission (including your chosen literary form) * how you will guarantee quality * your experience of social media (please note: this is not a deal breaker but it is helpful to know if you have an author webpage and a social media presence) * confirm your willingness to post project information on social media channels and/or your author website (or have it posted there on your behalf) * your geographical location * your intended audience.

There is no obligation to identify a particular National Trust property from the list above, though winning entrants will be matched with one house, even if the commissioned writer wishes to explore connections between participating properties.

A writing sample

This should be no more than two pages of A4, font size 12 or (in the case of poetry) no more than three poems.

Eligibility: Non-UK writers may apply, though there is no budget for plane travel to England. The Arts Council expects that the majority of writers should be based in England. As a condition of the commission fee, you must commit to participating in public events during 2020.

Deadline: Midnight on 30 April 2018.

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