Pop Up Projects launches BAME illustrator mentor programme

Pop Up Projects launches BAME illustrator mentor programme

London-based Pop Up Projects is launching a programme to help illustrators from diverse backgrounds start a career in children’s books.

The Pathways project, run in partnership with House of Illustration, will help 30 new illustrators, particularly those from a BAME background. During the initial two-year pilot, the illustrators will take part in 70 days of masterclasses and be given mentoring sessions and business training. They will produce five small-scale works of children’s literature and the best will sold by House of Illustration and distributed by Pop Up.

The work will also be exhibited at an event at the London Book Fair and the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

Founder of Pop Up Projects Dylan Calder said: “Diversity infuses everything we do at Pop Up. Today’s young readers live in an increasingly multicultural, globally connected society and it’s vital that literature reflects this. This means proactively addressing under-representation across the spectrum of children’s literature and publishing — from the author workforce through to leadership. With these exciting appointments, we’ve taken steps towards ensuring that diverse perspectives continue to drive and enrich our work. This is crucial as we launch our ambitious, industry-delivered Pathways programme to support a new generation of talented BAME illustrators.”

A minimum of 50% of Pathways activities will take place outside of London at affiliated universities, including online sessions, to ensure author-illustrators from across the country can participate, said the company.

Pop-Up Projects is a not-for-profit social enterprise that runs literature programmes and events for children across the UK. Its flagship project, Pop Up Festival, is a national children's literature festival for schools that is projected to reach 75,000 young people by 2022.

The company has also appointed four new board members, including Cynthia Davis, founder and chief executive of consultancy firm BAME Recruitment, as chair.

Davis said: “With our shared passion for the importance of diverse role models to empower the next generation, I am thrilled to be working with Pop Up as their new chair of the board. As a mum of a young family and diversity champion, I am a big advocate of promoting children's literature in schools that is ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse and more reflective of society. I am really looking forward to working with the team to create more access for all children and families to the broadest range of published, live and digital literature and support the talent development of a new generation of author-illustrators via Pathways.”

Pathways is now open to expressions of interest and aspiring illustrators can email pathways@pop-up.org.uk for more information.