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Today's Arts Council England Funding Update

This morning, I received a couple interesting e-mails regarding the ACE funding cuts that we’ve been talking about for the past couple weeks. As most everyone has heard, a number of independent publishers—including Dedalus and Arcadia, two presses that do a lot of work in translations—have had the funding they receive from the Arts Council England either slashed or cut entirely.

Well, Centerprise Literature is another to add to the list. According to this message, all of their funding is being withdrawn as of April 1st.

A cut to funding could mean:

  • the end to delivery of courses for writers at every level of their

development here at Centerprise;

  • the end of publication of Calabash magazine, an important resource for new and established writers of African and Asian descent;

After reading about all of these organizations losing funding, it would only be natural to assume that the ACE must’ve had it’s funding cut as well . . . Not so according to Joan Smith’s op-ed piece in The Guardian:

It takes a particular kind of ineptitude to announce a £50m increase in funding to the arts and set just about everyone in the arts world against you. This feat has been achieved by Arts Council England, which has been inundated with letters, petitions and threats of legal action from supporters of the small theatres, orchestras and independent publishers whose existence is now in doubt. [. . .]

It’s all in the name, apparently, of “the reclamation of excellence from its historic elitist undertones”.

That means trouble for such hopelessly elite venues as the Bush Theatre in west London, not to mention small publishers such as Dedalus and Arcadia, who stubbornly insist on exposing English-speaking readers to work by foreigners. [. . .]

Believe me, there is no other way for such writers to get published in this country. The dreadful state of mainstream publishing is an open secret; profit and celebrity are what drives the industry, and marketing departments don’t see either in a promising young Polish or Croatian novelist. Earlier this week, one of the country’s most distinguished publishers told me he had snapped up a Swedish crime novel, which has been a runaway best-seller in Scandinavia, after it was turned down by just about every mainstream house in London.

This kind of risk-taking is almost unknown in commercial publishing these days.

I have nothing to add. As I said before, I can’t imagine the pressure and difficulties of being on any Arts Council and making funding decisions about so many worthy organizations, but nevertheless, this kind of radical shake-up and fall-out seems pretty easy to avoid.



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