PBS to "challenge" ACE decision

PBS to "challenge" ACE decision

The Poetry Book Society (PBS) is planning to "challenge" the claim by Arts Council England (ACE) that its reach was not as wide as other portfolio funding applicants'.

In a letter published in today's Times, George Szirtes, PBS president, and Mary Tapissier, PBS chair, said: "We must challenge the claim by the Arts Council that the Poetry Book Society's reach and distribution was not as wide or as effective as other applicants'. Selection by the PBS can increase sales of a collection by up to 1,700 copies."

They added: "The PBS has also been successful in having the work of the shortlisted poets for the T S Eliot Prize read on the BBC Radio 4 'Today' programme and in attracting the largest audience by far for any recent poetry event in Britain".

This is the third in a series of letters published between the PBS and ACE since the arts body announced its portfolio funding decisions on 30th March.

In a letter by ACE director of literature strategy Antonia Byatt, published yesterday, she said the PBS' "reach and distribution was not as wide or effective as other applicants".

PBS representatives met with ACE yesterday (6th April) to discuss the decision to drop the funding. Campaigner and vice-chair of the PBS Desmond Clarke described the meeting as being "pretty tough". He added: "We had to make it clear to them that as it is at the moment, we are seeking professional advice, but we may have no option but to wind down the PBS and all the related activities, including the T S Eliot Prize".

Clarke said that a letter signed by 100 poets protesting against the funding cuts was being sent to Byatt today, and that the petition on the PBS website was approaching 1,000 signatories.

The Society will lose its regular ACE funding from April 2012, as part of the implementation of its new portfolio funding for the arts which followed the Government's cuts in its spending review of October 2010. It is receiving £111,299 from the Arts Council in its final year of funding for the 2011/12 financial year.