Poetry Trust's operations on 'pause' after funding difficulties

Poetry Trust's operations on 'pause' after funding difficulties

The Poetry Trust will cease to operate for the time being while it "takes a pause" to review its operations due to the "difficult funding situation in the arts at the moment".

A statement on the Poetry Trust website said its financial position means the future of decades-old Aldeburgh Poetry Festival is under threat.

“For many years The Trust has fought hard to raise enough funds for all the activity it undertakes as a year-round organisation and this precarious financial position does pose a threat to the future of the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival," it said. "By re-setting the nature and scope of the organisation we can minimise that threat going forward.”

The Poetry Trust’s Aldeburgh Poetry Festival is held annually over three days, with this year being the 27th staging of the event. The statement added: “This is certainly not the end of the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival. The Poetry Trust board is working closely with our key partners to effect a successful transition into a new, smaller structure.”

The organisation said it was too early to answer if there would be a festival next year. "In early 2016, after our strategic review, we will make an announcement," it said. "Please be assured we are absolutely intent on maintaining the existence of our festival, along with its excellence. A showcase for poetry and poets from around the world, a commitment to new voices, a close engagement with poetic craft – these are all the things you care passionately about and which we want to see endure. But we need to do this on a secure financial footing.”

The role of director been made redundant and the rest of the team will be leaving at the end of the year "for other opportunities or because their posts were closed” the organisation said. The Poetry Trust will also be leaving its office at The Cut in Halesworth from the end of December.

The future of the trust's initiatives such as The Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, the Aldeburgh Eight Seminar, The Poetry Prom and the Suffolk Young Poets Competition will also be reviewed in light of the trust's "future structure and costs”.

The Poetry Trust received lottery funding for 2012-2015 from Arts Council England (ACE), and has also been supported by a range of individual sponsors, charitable trusts and local authorities. Donors have been asked to cancel existing standing orders, and all contributions made after 31st December will be returned.

A spokesperson for ACE said: "The funding that the Poetry Trust has received between 2012 and 2015 has been for specific projects, within different funding programmes and for fixed amounts rather than continuous funding. Therefore they are not losing funding as each amount of funding has been applied for by the organisation for specific outcomes."

Antonia Byatt, director for literature at ACE said: “The Arts Council believes that poetry as an art form is an important part of the literature world, and the Poetry Trust produces inspiring work and a festival that brings poets from around the world to audiences across the country. We hope that the organisation can develop a successful new structure as part of its review and it will be eligible to apply for project funding in the future such as grants for the arts.”