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Blog the Second

May 21, 2011

I haven’t bought the Guardian today.  This is upsetting because it ruins my continuous collection of Review sections.  I could go to the garage but it feels ridiculous to buy a newspaper at 3.54.

Instead of reading the Review I’ve been wallowing in a mood over funding.   First of all there is the rudeness of Liverpool Council Culture department.  I fume when I think of their lack of advice and look at what they’re actually funding this year.  It irks it does.

Then of course there is the Arts Council.  If I’m honest I have no idea about what I can apply for and what I can’t apply for. Apparently: Arts Council England’s main funding programme is Grants for the arts. It is open to individuals, arts organisations and other people who use the arts in their work. Grants for the arts is a continuous programme and you can apply at any time.

Ok so they fund organisations such as, say, publishers.  In their list of what forms of literature they can fund it says this: Publishing (print and web-based work).

So that would be Holdfire then.  Especially when you consider the Arts Council’s Poetry Mapping statement from 2010: We would recommend the nurturing of new presses and editors.

When I was thinking of starting a press, finding that statement gave me hope.  I don’t want thousands of pounds but a few quid would be good to put on readings, to do things better.  Surely that’s what the Arts Council are there for, even in times of financial uncertainty. After all they fund Carcanet and Bloodaxe still: Carcanet get £122,328 and Bloodaxe get £99,504.   Now I don’t begrudge those amounts or suggest that publishers like those two don’t deserve it but it does seem a lot, more than what one would expect for funding for say readings, community work.  It kind of seems like funding for being a publisher, which is surely profit-making.  Obviously that funding is for the National Portfolio which is closed now so Holdfire can’t apply.  As the lady on the phone suggested, we need to look towards Small Grants.  But, she adds, the Arts Council does not fund profit-making.  The Arts Council advice states: we are unable to fund an activity that is of a purely commercial nature or intended to make a profit which will not form part of the project costs.

This is where I get confused.  It might be my ignorance.  It probably is.  But where does that statement leave a small press and where does it leave the larger presses.  I’ve heard people say that continuous funding, such as National Portfolio, might be unfair as it is funding the business and making publishing an unfair playing field for small presses.  I’m not sure about that, but I am sure I am confused by the advice and feedback from the Arts Council and that’s before I’ve submitted my funding application.

I think what it comes down to is that I have to think of a way to be inclusive, to incorporate performance and community work, work with young people, rather than focusing on what I believe is something as integral to the arts as all of them and as important, more so maybe: publishing good poetry.   It’s not that I didn’t have a plan to do readings, to focus on young poets and artists but now I feel like I should be thinking cynically, hmmm how can I get funding – I know, I’ll do a weekly performance in a nursery with poetry read by homeless people and crack-addled badgers!

Right I’m off to get the Guardian from the garage.  I might get some Skittles too. It’s 4.03.

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