Emerging writers to bring new perspectives to cultural criticism

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Four emerging writers will bring new perspectives to Scottish cultural criticism by participating in the Diverse Critics scheme, a new programme delivered in partnership between Creative Scotland, The Skinny and Disability Arts Online.

Following an open call for applications, four aspiring Scotland-based disabled arts writers and journalists, Julie Farrell, Samar Ziadat, Emily Rueggeberg and Katie Driscoll, have been selected to receive a bursary, mentoring, training and publishing opportunities.

The Skinny – Scotland’s free, monthly, culture, entertainment and listings magazine – will publish participants’ work across its print and online editions, whilst Disability Arts Online will provide further paid opportunities for the participants writing to be published.

Julie Farrell is a disabled writer and accessibility consultant based in Edinburgh. She writes fiction and narrative non-fiction, and her young adult novel, Fractal, received a special mention from the Write Mentor Children’s Novel Award 2019. Disability, mental health and equality are prominent themes in her work.

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Julie Farrell

Farrell said: “I believe in the power of positive language in making the arts inclusive to disabled people, and arts criticism is an excellent way to deliver this. This programme offers everything I need to step up my journalism career, and the fact it’s being delivered by people who understand my needs gave me the confidence to apply.”

Samar Ziadat is an early career freelance curator, educator and activist based in Glasgow. She is the director of Dardishi Festival and currently works as an arts programmer at Glasgow Zine Library and the Scottish Queer International Film Festival.

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Samar Ziadat

Ziadat said: “I’m currently in the process of expanding my portfolio to include arts writing. This programme provides the perfect opportunity for me to gain the confidence, skills, contacts, feedback and mentorship to take this step forward in my career – especially as a politically-engaged queer disabled woman of colour.”

Emily Rueggeberg (pictured below) is an art historian specialising in Modern and Contemporary Art, with a focus on Feminist and Performance Art. She was the Curatorial Fellow for the Hawn Gallery in Dallas, Texas (2017-18), and has curated exhibitions on queer culture, zines and the darknet.

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Emily Rueggeberg

Rueggeberg said: “Being accepted onto the Diverse Critics programme is an exciting opportunity for me to strengthen my critical writing skills so that I may continue to support marginalised artists and achieve my goal of improved inclusivity in the arts.”

Katie Driscoll is a writer for Starburst Magazine, and recently completed an MA in Film Programming and Curating. Her areas of interest include the intersection of feminism and the horror/exploitation genre, artists’ film and moving image, and punk culture in the 1980s.

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Katie Driscoll

Driscoll said: “I still find networking and pitching daunting, and I hope the support of the programme gives me a sense of inspiration and structure in sharing my ideas with others and learning to turn my creativity into coherent pitches, then translating them into something people want to read.”

Graham Reid, Equalities and Diversity Officer at Creative Scotland, said: “Professional arts criticism is an important element of the creative cycle. As well as the artists and companies creating and presenting new work, it is vital that those critical voices are representative of the diversity within our society. This pilot project aims to help remove some of the barriers met by emerging disabled writers but is also about recognising the value of a rich diversity of perspective for readers, audiences and artists.”