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Arts Council withholds Poetry Society grant

Arts Council England (ACE) has confirmed it is withholding the Poetry Society's quarterly grant payment of almost £78,500, in the wake of the major internal row and resignations.

The payment was due to the Poetry Society at the start of July. ACE said it was withholding the payment until the society has addressed its concerns around "governance, management and leadership, reputational risk and reasonable care". ACE said it hoped to be in a position to make the delayed payment by the time of the body's annual general meeting in September.

The move follows the departure of the Poetry Society director Judith Palmer, president Jo Shapcott and vice-president Gwyneth Lewis, among others, and an extraordinary general meeting earlier this month at which the society's board of trustees also agreed to stand down. An interim director, Amanda Smethurst, is now at the helm of the organisation.

A spokesperson for Arts Council England said: "We still believe that the Poetry Society has the potential to take a lead in the sector, as a champion of excellence helping more people to participate in the art form. But first, it needs to get its house in order."

She added: "The standing down of the current trustees, making way for a new board to be elected at the AGM in September, is clearly a move designed to regain the confidence of the society's membership in its leadership. We welcome this and hope that the forming of a new board will signal the start of a rapid return to stability for the society, so that it can work with the Arts Council to help achieve its ambitions for the poetry sector."