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‘Shifting the Gaze’ writing bursary programme

‘Shifting the Gaze’ writing bursary programme

In 2021, Writing Our Legacy is offering 15 bursaries of £500 each to Black*, Asian or ethnically diverse writers in Sussex, Hampshire or the wider South East to research and develop new writing or project work with a focus on the landscape of the South Downs National Park. The programme is funded by South Downs National Park Authority in association with New Writing South.

This opportunity is open to established and emerging writers.

The R&D period can include:

  • New writing in any genre including fiction, non-fiction, theatre, poetry, journalism
  • Developing existing writing
  • Research time and support
  • Creative practice development
  • Testing out ideas with new or existing audiences
  • Decolonising practice, revising traditional narratives and presenting new perspectives

*We employ MOSAIC charity’s definition of Black to be ‘Black people’ and ‘mixed-parentage people’ including all those people whose ancestral origins are African, Asian, Caribbean, Chinese, Middle Eastern, North African, Romany, the indigenous peoples of the South Pacific islands, the American continents, Australia and New Zealand.

Further information

Grantees will have 3 months to undertake a funded research and development (R&D) period and will be asked to provide equal opportunity monitoring and short evaluation of their work on completion.

Grantees will be offered various marketing and press opportunities to promote their work and profile themselves, including:

  • An opportunity to write a 300-word blog on a subject of their choice, such as their work or project in development, or their connection to the landscape and environment. This could be published on the Writing Our Legacy or South Downs National Park Authority websites.
  • Day or week-long social media takeover on channels such as Instagram.
  • Press interviews

During and after the research and development period, grantees will be supported with practical advice and signposting by Writing Our Legacy and provided with mentoring and other support from New Writing South. This could include support with developing applications for further funding, to build on work produced during the bursary.


The “Shifting the Gaze” bursary project is open for two rounds of applications.

Round 1:

  • Monday 5 April at 9am — 1st Round applications opens
  • Wednesday 5 May at midnight — 1st Round closes
  • Monday 17 May — 1st Round grantees announced
  • 1 June to 31 August 2021 — Round 1 applicants complete R&D

Round 2:

  • Monday 12 July at 9am — 2nd Round applications open
  • Wednesday 11 August at midnight — 2nd Round closes
  • Monday 6 September — 2nd Round grantees announced
  • 20 September to 13 December — 2nd Round grantees complete R&D

Eligibility and Access

Applications will be accepted by Google form or by email, with other options and support provided if applicants have any disability or language access needs (eg for example we could accept a voice recording or film where applicants prefer verbal communication over written).

Applicants can apply to do a standalone research and development or they can use the funding as match funding eg for Arts Council project, although we prefer to fund standalone and offer support after the R&D is complete.

New or unpublished writers will be encouraged to apply alongside more established or published writers.

Friston Forest, near Seven Sisters Country Park

To apply, you will be asked for a sample of your writing (previous unpublished, published or draft creative work), a short proposal outlining your idea or creative interest in relation to the bursary scheme, and an overview of the kind of support you might be looking for once the R&D is completed.

Applicants must live in the region of the South Downs National Park including Brighton, East Sussex, West Sussex or Hampshire.

We may accept writers in other parts of the South East of England, providing good rationale is presented for their proposal and the bursary supports an intention to visit the Park.

See the Discovery Map on the Park website for more information.

For further information on the programme, and how to apply, visit the Shifting the Gaze Programme Page.

Programme background

This project aims to raise awareness of the diverse creative talent in the South East region and help other people of colour find a meaningful connection to South Downs and the outdoors, for personal enjoyment, health reasons or through their own literature practice.

Writing Our Legacy feels there is a lack of awareness that Black people and other ethnically diverse people enjoy and have a connection with the outdoors — yet we know through our work that many do.

In 2019, we published our first anthology, Hidden Sussex, a new anthology for Sussex: Fiction, non-fiction and poetry from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic experience, which selected 23 contributors from across East Sussex, West Sussex and Brighton.

Our inspiration was to honour the new annual celebration “Sussex Day” with stories and narratives from the Black perspective that gave a sense of the Sussex experience and way of life.

The landscape of South Downs National Park is vital to the Sussex experience for people of colour and in particular nature was a strong theme of our anthology, which was selected by an open submission process. Over 30% of the 26 pieces explored Sussex’s outdoor heritage including Cuckmere Haven, Birling Gap, Moulsecoomb and of course Brighton beach.

The opportunity to nurture new talent in the area of rich relevance to peoples lives is hugely important to Writing Our Legacy, as we feel we play an important role in providing grassroots, personable and supportive talent development opportunities to writers and creatives of colour.

Organisations Involved

Writing our Legacy

Writing Our Legacy is an arts organisation whose aim is to raise awareness of the contributions of Black, Asian and people of colour* writers, poets, playwrights and authors born, living or connected to Sussex and the South East, established in 2012. We provide professional development and networking opportunities for writers of colour, as well as showcase emerging and established writers. Supported by Arts Council England.

*We employ MOSAIC charity’s definition of Black to be ‘Black people’ and ‘mixed-parentage people’ including all those people whose ancestral origins are African, Asian, Caribbean, Chinese, Middle Eastern, North African, Romany, the indigenous peoples of the South Pacific islands, the American continents, Australia and New Zealand.


South Downs National Park Authority

The South Downs National Park is the third largest National Park in England and has the largest National Park population, with 117,000 residents.

From rolling hills to bustling market towns, the South Downs National Park’s landscapes cover 1,600km2 of breathtaking views, including 18 distinctive landscapes, 13 European wildlife sites and more woodland than any other National Park in England or Wales.

The South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) is responsible for keeping the South Downs a special place, including conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area. It is also the planning authority for the National Park.

The Authority is a public body, funded by the government, and run by a Board of 27 Members.


New Writing South

New Writing South serves writers from across southeast England. Whether you’re an aspiring or established writer of novels, short stories, poems or plays, New Writing South is here to feed your creativity.



"The Downs...too much for one pair of eyes, enough to float a whole population in happiness."