Global TV production company Fremantle has become a sponsor of the Women’s Prize for Fiction for 2019, as the award transforms into a charity.
The British company, one of the biggest creators, producers and distributors of scripted and unscripted content in the world, has joined Baileys and Natwest as the “family of partners” in supporting the £30,000 prize, award organisers said.
Fremantle is part of the Luxembourg-based company, Bertelsmann's RTL Group, which owns stakes in TV channels and radio stations across Europe and is one of the world's largest media companies. Fremantle was founded in 2001 and is described, on its website, as "a global leader in television production, creation and distribution", creating shows such as "The X Factor", "Got Talent" and "Picnic at Hanging Rock", with its UK HQ based in central London.
In May 2017, organisers of the Women’s Prize for Fiction revealed it would adopt a new sponsorship model from 2018 that would see it supported by a family of sponsors, a group of leading brands and businesses from different sectors. Baileys had decided not to renew the same level of support previously offered because of change of strategy. The 2018 prize was supported collectively by Baileys, Deloitte and NatWest.
Award organisers also revealed it was in the process of becoming a charity, now known as the Women’s Prize Trust. Its new patrons scheme, revealed at the 2018 ceremony in June, offers two levels of involvement, Patrons for a £1,000 donation, and Prize Circle Patrons for a 3-year commitment of £5,000 a-year. Joanna Prior, chair of the Women’s Prize for Fiction board, said at the time: "We need to raise more money."
Prior said of Fremantle's involvment: “We are delighted to welcome Fremantle to our family of sponsors for The Women’s Prize for Fiction, joining Baileys and NatWest. Fremantle shares our vision and mission to support and celebrate women’s creativity and their involvement helps to position the Prize and the books and authors it supports within the wider creative industries landscape.”
Sarah Doole, director of global drama at Fremantle, said: “At Fremantle we are passionate about developing female storytellers in all their forms. We are incredibly proud of this opportunity to support and champion creativity in women around the world.”
In September the prize attracted controversy for introducing a £1,000 fee for publishers whose books make its longlist of 16. Reaction to the rule change revealed concerns the fee could pose "a serious barrier to entry" for smaller presses.
Next year’s prize will be awarded on 5th June 2019 at an awards ceremony in central London. Kamila Shamsie scooped this year's prize for her “extraordinarily topical” novel Home Fire (Bloomsbury Circus).