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British Sign Language storytelling bursary awarded

05 Apr 2011

Press release  Scottish Storytelling Centre

5 April   Press Release     For Immediate Release 

British Sign Language storytelling bursary awarded

Storyteller and native British Sign Language user, Mark MacQueen, has been awarded the Nancy and Hamish Turner bursary for 2010-11. 

The annually-awarded bursary is presented by the Scottish Storytelling Forum, the committee of storytelling practitioners behind the Scottish Storytelling Centre, to recognise and support a storyteller who works in a particularly interesting way or with groundbreaking new audiences.

This year’s bursary of £1,750 was enhanced by extra investment from Creative Scotland, specifically for the development of a storyteller working in British Sign Language. The bursary project will be the beginning of a long-term commitment by the Scottish Storytelling Centre to develop meaningful connections with Scotland’s Deaf community and to include storytelling in British Sign Language in the Scottish storytelling scene. 

Emma Turnbull, Development Officer at Creative Scotland says “Mark is an excellent choice for the Bursary, his approach to storytelling is both creative and innovative. Creative Scotland is pleased to support initiatives like this which encourage the exploration of language and the broadening of storytelling’s reach to engage a wide audience.” 

National Storytelling Coordinator Esther Blackburn says, “Scottish storytelling is a rich and vibrant scene, made all the richer and more relevant through the integration of many languages and cultures, such as Gaelic and Scots. We’re so excited about this opportunity to work with Mark, to explore the creativity and deep cultural importance of BSL storytelling and to widen audiences for Scottish BSL storytelling events and participative workshops”. 

Mark MacQueen grew up in a Deaf family in Edinburgh, is a natural BSL presenter and holds the prestigious Graduate Diploma in Teaching BSL Tutors from Heriot Watt University.  Mark is an active member of the Deaf community, has a passion for creating and sharing stories and poetry, and is involved in the study of sociolinguistics and BSL poetry. He is a BSL trainer, storyteller and workshop leader for Glasgow-based BSL training company Actual Signs, whose recent workshops have explored areas such as the ‘magic of visual metaphor’. Actual Signs will be supporting Mark and working in partnership with the Scottish Storytelling Centre over the bursary year.

Mark says,”I am delighted to have been awarded the Nancy and Hamish Turner Bursary to assist the professional development of BSL Storytelling in Scotland. The bursary supports the ambitions and further develops the work of Actual Signs to engage with the community. I look forward to working with the Scottish Storytelling Centre to deliver a wide range of captivating stories and innovative training workshops focused on the visual aspects of storytelling in the rich and beautiful language of BSL.”

Mark, the Scottish Storytelling Centre and Actual Signs are working together to devise a programme of outreach events and training workshops over the coming year. Events for the wider public and for targeted audiences will showcase the artistry and creativity of BSL storytelling and offer opportunities for BSL learners, native BSL users and non-users alike to experience the magic of storytelling in BSL. The Centre hopes that the project will be the catalyst to bring together, develop and publicly acclaim a new generation of BSL storytellers in Scotland. 

For further information, images or to arrange interviews contact: 
Esther Blackburn  or 0131 652 3272
Davide Panzeri  or 0131 652 3272

Available for interview: 
Mark MacQueen
Esther Blackburn 

Notes to editors: 

Nancy and Hamish Turner bursary

Set up in 2007 by Elspeth Turner and her husband Stewart Asquith in memory of Elspeth’s parents who were founder members of the Storytelling Network, the bursary exists to recognise and encourage innovative storytellers in their work. It was first awarded to Botswanan storyteller and educator, Kelone Khudu-Petersen for her pioneering work amongst children from cultural minorities in the Eastern Kalahari region. Subsequent recipients have been Tim Porteus, for his work with vulnerable adults, and Aileen Finlay and Marie Louise Cochrane for storytelling with younger children, parents and carers on emotional literacy.

The Scottish Storytelling Centre
The Scottish Storytelling Centre is the national body for the support and development of the storytelling artform. The organisation is a partnership between the Scottish Storytelling Forum and the Church of Scotland, and is supported by Creative Scotland, the City of Edinburgh Council and a wide range of charitable donations. 
Actual Signs 
Actual Signs offers BSL training from SQA Introductory level through to Signature Level 6 NVQ and Interpreting levels, and a wide range of BSL and Interpreting related workshop topics. Actual Signs, and its sister media company, Productions, are Deaf-led organizations with great expertise in accessibility, digital production, BSL presentation and interpretation and a creative approach to BSL training.