Thursday 7 December 2023

On the future of funding for poetry in England...

The recent removal of funding from Planet and New Welsh Review should shake English poetry publishers and magazines to the core. Bearing in mind that this axe has been wielded by a Labour-run administration in Wales, it’s a stark reminder of a bleak future for business plans that are reduced to making applications to ACE, no matter who might win the forthcoming general election, no matter what prior relationships might have been built. How long will such funding bodies continue to sustain ventures where the sales figures often total less than a third of the staff costs, and that’s before we discuss non-existent profit margins?

In this context, instead of simply waiting for eventual, inevitable rejection, then panicking and scrambling to beg individuals for help in a last-gasp survival bid, wouldn’t it be more sensible for publishers and magazines to act in advance and reconsider their attitudes towards the relative importance of sales when balancing their books (sic)? Several excellent, self-sustaining models are already out there, after all, but such outfits have had to commit fully to driving sales, and have taken time to build a strong identity. It’s impossible to generate a core base of loyal customers overnight.

Rather than viewing funding as a necessary, permanent prop, why not see it as a temporary boost that enables magazines and publishers to target long-term editorial and commercial independence…?

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