The Clarissa Luard Award, a new £10,000 award for independent publishing, has been set up by Arts Council England to recognise the contribution that small publishers make to literature and to celebrate the "adventurousness, innovative spirit and creativity" of independent literary publishing.
Independent literary publishers are invited to apply for the award with a proposal outlining how the award would benefit their business. Proposals may cover a broad range of uses, including embarking on an original project, supporting a new writer, assisting growth into a new area of business, and developing knowledge and expertise.
The award is open to literary publishers with an annual turnover of less than £1 million. In order to be eligible, publishers should have a publishing programme of at least five books a year and be able to demonstrate a list that has existed for a minimum of three years.
The Clarissa Luard Award for Independent Publishing 2017 will be judged by the writer Jenn Ashworth, literary editor Sharmaine Lovegrove, arts professional Gary McKeone, and Forum Books owner Helen Stanton.
The Clarissa Luard Award was founded in 2005 by Arts Council England, in memory of literature officer Clarissa Luard. Originally the award was given by nomination from the winner of the David Cohen Prize for Literature. From 2017, New Writing North is managing the award, which is now applied for by open submission.
The winner will be announced alongside the David Cohen Prize for Literature at a ceremony in London in November 2017.
Gary McKeone, programme director of St George’s House and former literature director at Arts Council England, said: “There are writers, independent publishers, literary magazines and literature organisations across the country who remember Clarissa Luard with deep respect and huge affection. She was tenacious in her pursuit of excellence and imaginative in her approach to everything she touched. This award continues to be a terrific tribute to the mark she made and it is a real personal pleasure for me to be part of this year’s panel. Of course, it would never have occurred to Clarissa that there would be an award in her name but how delighted she would be to know that it is now in the hands of one of our most creative arts organisations.”
Ashworth said: “I am delighted to be a part of anything that aims to promote, celebrate and support the amazing diversity of small independent presses operating in the UK and Ireland. Never before has there been such an urgent need for the careful nurturing of voices and perspectives that are, for whatever reason, excluded from the mainstream. Readers are hungry for experiment, for innovation, for risk. The Clarissa Luard Award seeks to recognise that important work and I'm excited to be a part of the judging team.”
Claire Malcolm, chief executive of New Writing North, said: “We are thrilled to be managing The Clarissa Luard Award and celebrating the contribution that independent publishers make to our culture. Independent publishers are the lifeblood of new writing and without them many new and excellent writers would never get to launch their careers. Just as the David Cohen Prize for Literature celebrates a lifetime’s achievement, the Clarissa Luard Award is an investment in the future success of great new writers and brave and tenacious independent publishers.”
Entries are now open for the Clarissa Luard Award for Independent Publishing 2017 at the New Writing North website.