ACE funding change 'could destabilise' independents

<p>Independent publishers are expressing unease over Arts Council England&rsquo;s new national portfolio funding criteria, announced last week, with one publisher calling the funding uncertainty &quot;dangerously destabilising&quot;. The director of literature strategy at Arts Council England, Antonia Byatt, moved to reassure literature organisations seeking ACE funding that they will not lose out to other art forms.</p><p>Byatt said that although there were no specific quotas, ACE would be looking to maintain a balance across the arts. She said: &quot;There will be equally as much of an emphasis on literature as on other art forms.&quot; The system, put in place following the Comprehensive Spending Review&rsquo;s 30% cut to ACE funding and the creation of ACE&rsquo;s new strategic framework, means funding applications have been thrown open to new applicants, with previously regularly funded organsations asked to re-apply. Funding decisions will be based on how each organisation fulfills ACE&rsquo;s five longterm goals, focused on promoting artistic excellence, reaching communities, the arts as sustainable and innovative, building a diverse arts workforce, and bringing arts to young people.</p><p>Byatt said ACE Literature would balance funding between literary organisations, but would prioritise poetry, translations and literacy programmes.</p><p>Jeremy Poynting, managing editor of Caribbean-writing specialist Peepal Tree Press, said there was an ongoing argument with ACE as to the value of independent presses publishing fiction when so much was available through the mainstream. &quot;Publishers like us do things that commercial publishers don&rsquo;t,&quot; he said, citing regional publishing as an example.</p><p>Stephen Stuart-Smith, director of Enimarthon Press, expressed concern for publishers whose editorial programmes operate years ahead of publication. &quot;It is dangerously destabilising. It undermines our confidence in our programme,&quot; he said.</p><p>Tony Ward, managing director of poetry specialist Arc Publications, said that although the new system could be seen as a progressive step, losing out on funding would be a huge blow.</p>