Pop Up Projects, a not-for-profit children’s literature agency, has received £300,000 to launch a talent development programme for illustrators of colour.
The organisation is funding ‘Pathways into Children’s Publishing’, which is for aspiring illustrators from under-represented backgrounds, thanks to £192,000 from Arts Council England’s National Lottery Projects Grants and £108,000 from publishers and universities.
Illustrators who take part in Pathways will receive masterclasses and tutorials from illustrators and university tutors, as well as art directors from publishing houses. They will be mentored throughout the programme and will create and publish a body of work. The best will be sold at House of Illustration and Round Table Books and students who graduate will redeive an industry endorsed ‘quality badge’.
The announcement comes only days after BookTrust revealed that less than 2% of the children’s books published in the UK in 2017 were by authors and illustrators of colour. And the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education’s 2018 ‘Reflecting Realities’ report that found just 4% of UK children’s books in 2016-2017 featured BAME characters.
Dylan Calder, founder and director of Pop Up Projects, said: ‘Pathways is designed to proactively address the underlying issues preventing diversity in children’s publishing — including, frankly, genuine issues of institutional prejudice. It provides an elite creative and professional development programme, made possible through cross-sector investment, to secure a next generation of industry-prepared, commercially viable artists. Elite, because it’s taught across 10 university campuses and by the best publishing professionals and children’s illustrators in the world.
“There’s nothing like it, anywhere; and it’s exclusively for BAME and disadvantaged illustrators. Pathways is driven by our shared goal of changing the face of children’s illustration.”
Applications for Pathways will open on Friday 10th May but illustrators can email email@example.com to register their interest. House of Illustration will also host an open day for anyone wanting to find out what’s involved from 10am on 14th June.
The publishers supporting the project are: Andersen Press, Bloomsbury, Hachette Children’s Group, HarperCollins Children’s Books, Nobrow Ltd, Nosy Crow, Penguin Random House UK Children’s, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster UK, Usborne and Walker Books.