If authors are unable to make a living from their work, the supply of new and innovative writing will dry up. It is therefore vital that they have access to grants and other sources of funding.
While a number of charitable organisations are able to provide discreet funding for creators, such as our own Authors' Foundation, there is a great need for ongoing support via national and international bodies.
Arts Council & Creative Scotland
The SoA works closely with Arts Council England, the Arts Council of Wales and Creative Scotland to ensure that funds are made available to authors and to support literature. In between 2015-2018, Arts Council England expects to spend approximately £46m on literature from a total budget of over £1.3bn, which represents just 3.5%. We believe that the Arts Council and Creative Scotland should do more across the UK to support authors in order to increase the supply of quality writing for everyone. We support Arts Council England’s aim, as expressed in Models of Support for Literary Fiction, to provide greater support for authors and independent publishers, boost readership and increase diversity across the sector.
In April 2018 we responded to Arts Council England’s ‘conversation’ about its plans for the next ten years. We highlighted a number of areas where we believe ACE could provide greater support to authors, including grants for work in progress, skills training, mentoring schemes, funding for prizes and supporting authors to make school visits. The next stage of ACE’s consultation will take place in the autumn. We will be making a submission and asking for members’ views in advance of this.
We are concerned about the loss of EU funding for the arts after Brexit. The Creative Europe funding scheme provides important funding for the arts across Europe, and brings in an average of £18.4 million a year to the UK. Creative Europe is particularly important for literary translation, and since 2014 its funding has enabled 147 books by authors from or based in the UK to be translated into other languages. It has also helped distribute 145 British films in other European countries.
One of Creative Europe’s key aims is to “promote the transnational circulation and mobility of cultural and creative works and artists to reach new audiences.” This is a laudable goal, and public funding of the arts must continue to support such an aspiration after Brexit. Membership of Creative Europe is not restricted to EU states, and we are urging the Government to either commit to remaining within Creative Europe following our departure from the EU, or to increase domestic funding for the arts via the Arts Council or another equivalent body.
Authors benefit both directly and indirectly from EU research funding. The UK is the second largest recipient of EU funding for science and research, and it is vital that our excellent reputation for research is not damaged by Brexit. Losing this funding would also have a knock-on effect on the £1.1bn journal market. The Government should commit to securing continued access to EU research funding schemes, or putting in place a domestic replacement.
Funding for skills training
Most authors are self-employed workers, and it is crucial that continuing professional development is offered to them and not just to employees. One way to reach this almost invisible workforce is through professional organisations and trade unions, including the SoA, which offer members access to training, mentoring and updates on industry developments. Government funding would be well directed to such schemes which take the place of traditional apprenticeships, which, by the very nature of writing, do not work for authors.