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Arts Council England poetry funding

Update: Michael Schmidt pointed out that I should be including Inpress as a recipient of NP funding. I’ve also added further information on GftA.

With no darker purpose I’ve been looking at records for funding for poetry from ACE. Those from Creative Scotland, Arts Council Northern Ireland and Arts Council Wales do not seem as comprehensive or accessible, and indeed seem to cover much less for poetry anyhow.

National Portfolio

The Arts Council England National Portfolio (NP) 2012-2015 data is here, and 2015-2018 is here. My Google Docs spreadsheet for the tables and graphs below is here.

The total money awarded in this scheme for the period 2015 to 2018 will be £1,086,459,379.44. To split this by ACE’s ‘discipline’:

I’ve pulled out those organisations involved in publishing or publicising poetry, as best I can. From my figures, for 2015-2018 poetry organisations receive 30.64% of all funding for ‘Literature’ organisations and 0.56% of all NP funding.

(I’m unsure of the correct 2012-2015 figure for Apples & Snakes; the first spreadsheet gives a figure of £1,369,362 whilst the second gives £1,203,948.)

Penned in the Margins’ inclusion into the NP from 2015 is noteworthy, as is the cessation of funding for Faber, which was for the Faber New Poets scheme.

Support from ACE also comes from the Grants for the Arts (GftA) scheme. For instance, Enitharmon Press was a ‘Regularly Funded Organisation’, in the scheme that preceded the NP, but was not included in the NP in 2012 and thereafter; however, Enitharmon received a GftA award of £75,910 in December 2013, £79,160 in February 2013, and £77,897 in January 2012. These sums exceed the annual amounts it received as a ‘Regularly Funded Organisation’ between 2007-2009 by more than £20k. (I don’t know the figures for 2009-2012.) It seems some organisations move between the NP and GftA; for example, the Forward Arts Foundation appears to have made the opposite swap to Enitharmon, receiving GftA awards in 2010 and 2011 before moving into the NP. Indeed, all NP organisations except 2 received at least 1 GftA award prior to 2012.

(On the subject of the ‘Regularly Funded Organisations’: these also included Arc and Flambard, who, like Enitharmon, lost their funding from 2012, along with the Poetry Book Society. Flambard has since closed up shop.)

Grants for the Arts

ACE Grants for the Arts awards data is here. These spreadsheets are harder to work with, so these figures may be inaccurate.

By the ACE’s ‘Main artform’ categorisation, it seems 6% of awards August 2013 – July 2014 were for ‘Literature’. Within this period, best as I can tell the largest single award for an organisation or individual writing, publicising, performing or publishing poetry was £88,531 to The Mouthy Poets (following £30,925 awarded in July 2012). Other publishers receiving smaller awards within this period include Cinnamon Press, Offa’s Press, and Knives Forks and Spoons. In total, £632,171 was awarded to poetry organisations/individuals over that 12 months, which comprises 15% of all awards for ‘Literature’ and 0.9% of the total GtfA.

Of ACE’s complete records for GftA awards, from April 2003 to August 2014, of all ‘Literature’ awards the single biggest recipient is Apples & Snakes, before their inclusion into the NP for 2012. Over the entire records, 3,645 awards were made for ‘Literature’, totaling £52,168,848. Of these, 22.7% of the amount awarded went to poetry organisations or individuals. I’ve made a list of significant organisations receiving awards over the entire record period:

The records include grants awarded to single working poets, with larger amounts awarded for spoken word shows and tours — for instance, to Luke Wright, Malika Booker or Mark Grist — and smaller amounts for work on manuscripts and writing courses/retreats (occasionally described as “professional development”).

In the latter case, GftA appear to function something like publisher advances. For example: Daljit Nagra received £11,400 in August 2007 for a project entitled “Tippoo Sultan’s Incredible White-Man Eating Tiger”, and £10,000 in March 2012 for a project entitled “The Ramayana”; Faber published his Tippoo Sultan’s Incredible White-Man-Eating Tiger Toy-Machine!!! in August 2011, and Ramanyana in October 2013. It seems also to have helped poets work towards a first collection; for instance, Heather Phillipson received £5,500 in March 2011 for “Time Out for Poetry: Completing a First Collection”, and her first collection, Instant-flex 718, was published by Bloodaxe in 2013. On the basis of this, she has gone on to be named one of the Next Generation Poets 2014 by the Poetry Book Society.

Counting Phillipson, the twenty Next Generation Poets 2014 (the scheme itself supported by a £40,000 grant to the PBS) includes 8 who’ve made use of GftA awards since 2003, totaling £88,941.