7 January 08 | Chad W. Post

Last month we wrote about the announcement from the Arts Council England that nearly 200 arts organizations would have their funding cut. (Personally, I was really disappointed to hear this—the ACE always seemed so progressive in it’s multi-year funding, payments to translators, etc.)

For most arts orgs—especially publishers—cuts of this nature can be extremely detrimental, even fatal. As almost everyone knows, publishing (outside of the mega-media conglomerates) is a break-even (at best) business, especially for publishers who do mostly literature. A typical nonprofit in the States receives approx. half its annual income from grants and donations. And very few presses have any sort of endowment or savings to fall back on if a grant is cut.

Even losing a $5,000 grant can have its repercussions—less money for marketing a book, leading to lower sales, etc., etc. Everything’s connected, and when you’re working on an razor-thin margin, any little blip can foul up your best laid plans.

Anyway, over the weekend, I received two pleas from UK publishers evidencing the severe repercussions of this funding cut that I’m definitely going to support, and hope others will as well.

The first, from Arcadia, asking me to sign a letter to Moira Sinclair regarding the 25% cut in funding occurring next year:

To Arts Council England

Dear Moira Sinclair

We are writing to express our dismay and concern about ACE’s decision to cut future funding to Arcadia Books by 25% after an inflation-linked rise next year. While we understand the need to review grants on a regular basis, this particular cut threatens to undermine what Arcadia has managed to achieve in an impressively short space of time.

We believe that the cultural impact of the cut is disproportionate to the money saved by ACE, and are writing to ask you to reconsider the decision.

As you know, Arcadia is one of the few British publishers whose list features a high proportion (currently 50 percent) of books in translation.

At a moment when the UK is assuming a leading role in the enlarged EU, it is hard to imagine a more important function for ACE than to ensure that the best of European literature continues to be available to British readers.

Since it was founded 11 years ago, Arcadia has made available in English a stream of important books by foreign writers and had its contribution to literature recognised by critics and the judges of important prizes. It has been named Sunday Times small publisher of the year, and won the prestigious 2007 Independent Foreign Fiction prize for The Book of Chameleons by Jose Eduardo Agualusa.

We are concerned that this public recognition of Arcadia’s achievements may have led ACE to believe that it is in a stronger financial position than is actually the case. Like all small companies, Arcadia depends on a dedicated staff, all of whom put in many hours beyond what would be expected in an established company, and faces regular cash flow problems. It did well in 2006, largely because of the success of a single volume, The White Masai, and a grant from ACE to purchase BlackAmber.

Now, when Arcadia needs to consolidate its success to date and fund growth, ACE has announced this substantial cut in future funding. The most likely effect is to deny the company the opportunity it needs to establish a proper infrastructure, and put its long-term future in question.

We very much hope that you will consider taking another look at the company’s position, and think again about the consequences of cutting your support at this difficult time.

Yours sincerely

(If you would like to add your name to the following letter, please email “Yes” to lucyjpop@gmail.com by 11 January. Many thanks for your support.)

The second from Dedalus, which lost 24,000 pounds (approx. $48,000) in funding this month:

The Arts Council has announced that Dedalus, which was to celebrate 25 years of publishing later this year, is to lose its funding from January.

This will have catastrophic consequences and even if we can survive, we will have to completely re-think what type of books we can publish.

We have an excellent reputation for translated foreign fiction and have won many prizes in this field.

We also publish original English language fiction and are one of the few publishers, large or small, who have been happy to receive unsolicited manuscripts through the post and not only from agents. This has led to the publication of authors such as Andrew Crumey, Jack Allen, Christopher Harris, Christine Leunens and James Waddington.

If you value diversity in the publishing world then please help Dedalus by voicing your concerns by signing our on-line petition at:

http://www.gopetition.co.uk/online/16111.html

and contacting the following:

Hierarchy at the Arts Council:
Sir Christopher Frayling at The Arts Council via his PA: maria.hampton@artscouncil.org.uk
Peter Hewitt, Chief Executive of The Arts Council: peter.hewitt@artscouncil.org.uk
Andrea Stark, Chief Executive of The Arts Council, East: andrea.stark@artscouncil.org.uk

Literature at the Arts Council:
Antonia.Byatt@artscouncil.org.uk
John.Hampson@artscouncil.org.uk
Niki.Braithwaite@artscouncil.org.uk
Lucy.Sheerman@artscounci.org.uk

The Secretary of State for Media & Sport, James Purnell: enquiries@culture.gov.uk
Arts Division, Jane Woolner: jane.woolner@culture.gsi.gov.uk


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