Ada Igwebu and Connor Faulkner have been offered places by Blake Friedmann on its inaugural Carole Blake Open Doors Project, a programme encouraging candidates from diverse backgrounds to enter the publishing industry. A further three-month paid internship has been awarded to a third applicant, Grace Kabeya.
Igwebu, from Aberdeen, will take the first placement, from 8th to 19th May 2017. She said: "At the risk of resurrecting clichéd words, I am terribly excited to be part of the Carole Blake Open Doors Project. I heard about the programme by complete accident: a friend mentioned it in passing, I applied and here I am. I am thrilled."
Faulkner, from Doncaster, has been offered a second placement from 31st July to 11th August. He said: "I'm incredibly excited to be chosen as a candidate for the Carole Blake Open Doors Project. It's not very often that you're presented with such a brilliant opportunity, and I can't wait to get stuck into an industry which has eluded me for so long."
Kabeya, from Zimbabwe by way of University of Exeter, will take up a 3-month paid internship from May to July 2017. "A chance. A platform. An opportunity to learn more about the industry in one of the best possible ways. I could not be more grateful and excited. It is all I can talk about and I cannot wait to begin."
Isobel Dixon, a director of the Blake Friedmann agency, said: "All of us at the agency - and many of our internship alumni now working across the book trade - are looking forward to welcoming the first Open Door candidates to Mandela Street and sharing insights into this brilliant industry. We're very grateful to David Hicks and The Book Trade Charity (BTBS) for their generous support of this initiative, and to others who have offered to help in many ways including, crucially, with their time and experience. It's this generosity and energy that makes ours one of the great creative industries, one we seek to make even more varied, dynamic and inclusive."
The programme will run twice a year, offering mentorship with Blake Friedmann’s book agents, the opportunity to attend selected meetings with editors and clients, and the chance to get involved in every aspect of day-to-day life as an agent. It solely seeks applicants from backgrounds not well represented in publishing, including "those who have not been to college or university (like Carole), those not from high income families, those from BAME backgrounds, and those who live outside the London metropolitan area".
Applications re-open for the Carole Blake Open Doors Project in July for a 10-day placement in late autumn 2017, including travel to and accommodation in London. Details how to apply are available on the agency's website.