Creators of children’s literature to lead community workshops

Published 08 January 2012

childbookSuccessful writers and illustrators of books for young people will be visiting Armidale and the New England region over the next three years to lead a series of workshops aimed at fostering local talent in the writing of children’s and young adult literature, including graphic novels and multimedia productions.

The “writers and illustrators in residence” program, titled “Creative Communities in Children’s and Young Adult Literature”, is being funded by a grant of $90,000 from the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund to the School of Arts at the University of New England.

UNE’s Dr Elizabeth Hale, who is managing the new program, said it would bring three published writer/illustrators to the region during each year of the program’s duration – 2012, 2013 and 2014. “We’re hoping to attract, for example, a graphic novelist, a picture book writer, and a creator in digital media each year,” Dr Hale said.

The first of the fortnight-long “writer/illustrator-in-residence” periods is planned for March this year.

“Australia has one of the most dynamic picture book industries in the world,” Dr Hale explained, “and we need programs like this to foster new talent. There’s a lot of talent in Armidale and New England, and I’d like to see a few people launched into new careers as a result of this program. To find the next Shaun Tan [the Australian writer and illustrator of award-winning children’s books] living in Armidale would be wonderful.”

The “Creative Communities” program is being conducted in association with Arts New England (UNE’s Centre for Research and Innovation in the Arts), and partners in the program include the New England Regional Art Museum (which will provide studio space), the New England Institute of TAFE, the New England Writers’ Centre, schools in the New England region, and the local branch of the Children’s Book Council of Australia.

Each writer/illustrator will conduct a series of workshops during their two-week residence. The workshops will be open to school students, university and TAFE students, and members of the New England community. In addition to providing a $5,000 stipend, the program will subsidise accommodation and transport costs for each of the writer/illustrators-in-residence.

Community members who want to inquire about the program can contact Dr Hale via e-mail: ehale@une.edu.au.

“The program aims to recognise and promote the work of writers and illustrators publishing in a range of narrative styles – verbal, visual, and multimedia,” Dr Hale said, “and to foster regional talent by bringing people into contact with leading producers of such work.

“It will encourage wider community knowledge of – and participation in – the creation and reception of children’s and young adult literature, as well as an increased integration of creative practice into education in a regional context that may provide a model for other communities in the future. Given UNE’s role as a major provider of distance education, and Armidale’s role in the NBN roll-out, there is the potential to expand the program well beyond the region.”