Fears over access to children's poetry after Arts Council cuts

Fears over access to children's poetry after Arts Council cuts

Children's poetry is among the biggest losers in the children's literature sector following the recent cuts in Arts Council funding, it has emerged. As well as the Poetry Book Society (PBS) which has seen 100% of its funding cut, organisations Nawe (National Association of Writers in Education) and Windows Project, which took poetry into communities in the north west, have lost all their funding.

The PBS, which ran the Children's Poetry Bookshelf which highlights new poetry publishing and the Old Possums Children's Poetry Award, was asked to remove its children's poetry activities from its application for Arts Council funding even before it made its application for renewed funding. Chris Holifield, director of the PBS, said: "In a way the removal of funding from these organisations won't make much difference to publishers because the Arts Council wasn't funding children's poets or children's poetry publishing anyway. However, what the cuts have done is to remove the medium by which poetry gets to children. It is very odd that it's given funding to commercial organisations like Faber, but removed funding from Nawe which was instrumental in getting poetry into schools."

Holifield was also angered at the decision to put £1m into poetry during the Olympics. She asked: "What is the point of removing long-term, stable projects in favour of short-term programmes?"

At Nawe, which helps develop poets and writers and to get them into schools, director Paul Munden said: "We didn't see this (the cut in funding) coming. I can't see a strategic approach in these cuts. There is no other national organisation working with writers to share their work with others." He added: "The whole ‘writers into classrooms' movement was led by poets and they constitute a large part of our work."

The Arts Council said that its new National portfolio of organisations has "strengthened provision for young people to enjoy reading and creative writing". Performance poetry organisation Apples and Snakes will deliver a national engagement programme for young people and the Poetry Society already works with schools fpr its Foyle Young Poets prize.

Other literature organisations that have retained their funding include Booktrust and Seven Stories in Newcastle, where an increase in funding will help develop its touring programme.

The Children's Bookshow, which tours writers' events, is also now receiving regular funding. Director Sian Williams said: "We had been receiving annual funding from ACE but regular funding means that, for the first time, we will be able to plan ahead."