Award nominated graphic novelists John Chalmers and Sandra Marrs – better known as Metaphrog – have been commissioned to produce a graphic novel by Creative Scotland, as part of the Scottish Government’s Time To Shine arts strategy for young people aged 0–25 which appears to have made comic creation an integral part of the new initiative.
Needless to say, we think this is one of the first times any government on the British Isles has given comics such significant recognition, and it’s a welcome step toward the kind of support comics are given elsewhere in the European Union.
The strategy – launched last Friday by Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs and Janet Archer, Chief Executive, Creative Scotland – is centred around creating and sustaining engagement. It aims to nurture potential and talent and developing infrastructure and support for the arts, and sets out a vision and key recommendations to enable Scotland’s children and young people to flourish and achieve, in and through the arts and creativity.
The Time To Shine: Graphic Novel is a part of the strategy and comes in the form of a printed book and is also available to read online, along with an animation produced by The Gates Film and The World of Arthur Cox.
Time to Shine – Animation from Creative Scotland on Vimeo
“The challenge was to create something which would appeal to children of all ages, and we also wanted the story to stand on its own as a good read – something entertaining!
“Our task was made easier by the fact that the subject – the arts – is something we have felt passionately about all our lives. We drew inspiration from the many graphic novel workshops and talks we do in schools, and were also advised by young people from Young Scot and Creative Scotland.
“It is a story of transformation, in which the arts empower people,” they enthuse. “We also raised questions such as what is art? and, can you make a living from the arts?”
In the story, we’re introduced to 14-year-old, typical teenager Sam, who likes all the usual things any teenage boy does… football, music, girls… and avoiding Declan and his gang! He likes to ‘parp’ a bit on his trumpet but it’s his sister who’s the talented one. 17-year-old Jen plays guitar in an all-girl band. When their school organises a talent show, Jen’s band are favourites but a last minute hitch means the keyboard player can’t play, so how will the day be saved!?
“The arts have the ability to inspire individuals and have a positive impact on communities.,” say Metaphrog. “Time To Shine: Graphic Novel looks at what barriers may stop engagement in the arts and its positive benefits by exploring three key themes: Let me in!, Help me shine!, Take me there!
“We are honoured to have been a small part of this strategy.”
Youth arts in Scotland will benefit from £5million new funding from Scottish Government over the next two years and that this funding will support initiatives based on key objectives of the new strategy.
A major new open fund for organisations to develop new routes for young people to participate in and access arts and creative activity. Applications to the fund will open early in the New Year, via the Creative Scotland website; and the Scottish Government will also develop a new national digital platform to showcase and connect young people engaged in youth arts activity.
The strategy also sees the establishment of a National Youth Advisory Group. A group of young representatives from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland will be tasked with making recommendations on the make-up and role of the NYAG, working in partnership with Creative Scotland.
The catalyst for the production of this strategy stems from a discussion paper in 2009 called Shaping Tomorrow, Today submitted to the Scottish Government by Scottish Youth Theatre, National Youth Orchestras of Scotland, YDance and the National Youth Choir of Scotland.
Creative Scotland was then asked by the Scottish Government to lead on the drafting of a strategy for Scotland that would create a framework for collaborative working and the development of the arts for children and young people across all artforms including the performing arts, film, visual arts and literature. In order to fulfil this remit, Creative Scotland initiated a national discussion. Time To Shine encapsulates the thoughts and ideas that emerged through that discussion with, and between, Scotland’s young people and the organisers, supporters and deliverers of Scotland’s youth arts sector.
Going forwards, individual organisations will implement additional initiatives based on objectives in the strategy, with all work co-ordinated by a new, soon to be established youth arts programme management team.
It’s great that comics appear to have an integral part to this new strategy which Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said she hopes will “enrich young people’s lives through the arts and creativity.
“The launch of Scotland’s first ever youth arts strategy is an exciting moment. At its heart, the strategy promotes the real benefits and value culture can have on the development of our young people and our communities.
“The Scottish Government recognises the positive impact that arts and creativity can have and the strategy will, for the first time, provide strategic direction, vision and resources so that we can engage and inspire a whole new generation. Time to Shine builds on the well-established links between culture, education, youth employment and personal development.
“It is not only about providing enhanced access opportunities for all of Scotland’s young people but it goes further to support meaningful career pathways for our talent of the future; be it on stage, the screen, behind the scenes or in our world-leading creative industries.
“Perhaps most importantly of all, our aim is that this engagement with culture will nurture personal qualities that will help our young people to grow confidently as citizens and towards realising their ambitions, wherever they lie in the arts or elsewhere.”
“The launch of Time To Shine follows on the back of amazing work already taking place in youth arts in this country and the skills, dedication and energy of people of all ages involved throughout Scotland,” added Janet Archer, Chief Executive, Creative Scotland.
“Creative Scotland aims to ensure that this work continues and develops through the Time to Shine strategy. Putting young people at the heart of Scotland’s creative future will mean young people’s lives will continue to be enriched through engagement in arts and creative activity across Scotland.”
• You can read the graphic online (along with a Gaelic version), along with more information about the strategy on: www.creativescotland.com/time-to-shine
• The full Time to Shine strategy and accompanying documentation can be accessed here: http://www.creativescotland.com/time-to-shine
• To read an extract of Janet Archer’s launch speech, click here: http://www.creativescotland.org.uk/sites/default/files/editor/Time_to_Shine_-_Extract_from_Speech_by_Janet_Archer.doc
• Follow the conversation on social media via #timetoshine
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.