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. Arts and cultural organisations in the UK benefit hugely from Creative Europe, a €1.46 billion European Union programme for the cultural and creative sectors for the years 2014-2020. Participation in Creative Europe is not restricted to EU member states, and the UK Government should either commit to remaining within Creative Europe following our departure from the EU, or to increasing domestic funding for the arts via the Arts Council or another equivalent body.
We are particularly concerned about the risk of losing funding for translation. Much UK translation is supported by EU grants and prizes, and publishers receive funding directly from Creative Europe for the translation of literary works into different European languages. Translation is vital for diversifying the range of books available in the UK and for our understanding of other cultures. Sales of translated fiction have grown in recent years, and it is important that this trend is not reversed by Brexit.
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.
SoA responds to Arts Council England's 'conversation' (6 April 2018)