Friday, 1 April 2011

Litfest calls for support after Arts Council funding loss

Lancaster litfest director Andy Darby has issued a more detailed statement on its loss of Arts Council funding (see news story), which we publish in full below.

"In October, Arts Council England (ACE) had its budget cut by £100m. Yesterday they announced which organisations they would continue to fund. Sadly, Litfest was one of over 200 organisations which was not offered funding after 2012.

"We're disappointed. Since ACE funded us to grow our organisation and to move into the refurbished Storey building, we have run more events, published more new work from the region and worked with more partners on literature development projects. We have done what we promised we would.

"Last night, our Metamorphoses storytelling event sold out, with 100 people packed into The Storey Auditorium. 

What we are doing, and how you can help

"We really appreciate your support and your enjoyment of what we do. We believe that Lancaster deserves inspiring literature events and we intend to keep providing them - just as we have for over 30 years. Only hours after we received the news, we were on the phone booking new events for our storytelling series.

"Lancaster has taken a beating in these cuts. The Storey Gallery and Folly have also lost their funding; the Dukes Theatre and Ludus Dance have had their funding reduced.

"We think that ACE's decision to cut our funding is not a reflection of the value of our work to Lancaster, but of the changed priorities and demands being made of and by Arts Council England."

If you'd like to support litfest, there are a number of things you can do:
  • Send Litfest  an email telling them why the organisation is important to you. "Tell us, for example, about an event that has uplifted you," says Andy, "or a writing workshop that has made a difference.
  • Book a ticket for one of Litfest's events, or pop in and buy a book from our Poetry Bookcase. As hundreds of British arts organisations are being cut, now is the time to show your support for the arts. Vote with your feet. 
  • Tell your friends about Litfest - face-to-face or online. 
  • Get involved - volunteer some of your time to staff Litfest's Poetry Bookcase, help with our leaflet and poster distribution, or join our Front of House team at events.
 Upcoming litfest Lunchtime Classics events:

1 comment:

John Freeman said...

Here is the Arts Council's response to my letter complaining about the loss of litfest's funding... they appear loathe to explain the full reasons for not backing this long-established organisation.

Dear John,

Thank you for your email and for taking the time to share your views about our decision not to award National Portfolio funding to Lancaster litfest.

For the first time in the Art Council’s 65-year-old history, we have used an open application process with published criteria, shaped by a shared long-term vision for the arts, to make our portfolio decisions. We believe that ambition, artistic adventure and entrepreneurial spirit should continue against a challenging economic backdrop, and all of our decisions have been made in the context of our 10-year strategic framework, Achieving great art for everyone; and the reduced resources available – a 14.9% cut to the budget for funded organisations.

To achieve this, we have made strategic decisions, so that great work can continue, that inspirational leadership is developed and supported, and that a vibrant countrywide ecology is maintained.

Using our published criteria, the final decisions show that the Arts Council is

· Supporting, rather than holding back, excellent organisations who have just got into their stride – or are making quantum leaps – enabling them to deliver to their full potential and achieve the long-term vision for the arts in this country

· Maintaining, rather than destabilising, organisations who have just reached the point of becoming artistically and commercially resilient

· Offering portfolio funding for the first time to a number of exciting new organisations and artists

Arts Council England received 1,333 applications to join the National Portfolio, asking for a total of £1.4 billion over three years. The available Grant in aid budget was £956m million over three years

All existing regularly funded organisations (RFOs) who were not successful in their applications have 12 months of remaining Arts Council funding to allow them to explore alternative sources of support or adapt their business plans. This transitional year will provide a degree of stability and ensure that all organisations who are managing a significant change in their funding from 2012 will have a full year to manage the change in the most effective way.

We are not publishing a full list of unsuccessful applicants, as organisations have indicated that they do not want us to release this information and we have been advised that it would potentially compromise their commercial interests.

This has been a thorough and open process and we have had to make difficult choices. Regretfully, we have had to turn down many good applications and cease funding 206 of our existing portfolio organisations. But we wanted to fund a portfolio that would not only survive, but would flourish.

Thank you for your comments about Lancaster litfest. It is good to know that you are passionate about the arts in your region.

We know that not everyone will be happy with our decisions, but the Arts Council is here to help the arts as a whole to be the best they can be, and to work with organisations to achieve that over the next few years.

If you have any further queries, please contact the Enquiries team for assistance on 0845 300 6200 or email

We are confident that this National Portfolio reflects the quality and excellence of the arts all across England.

I hope this information will be helpful and we appreciate you having taken the time to share your views with us.

Kind regards

Iain Ferns
Customer Service Advisor, Enquiries
Arts Council England, National Support Centre
Phone 0845 300 6200
Fax 0161 934 4426