Yeats Society launches €100k crowdfunding campaign in survival bid

Yeats Society launches €100k crowdfunding campaign in survival bid

The Yeats Society in Sligo, Ireland, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to fight for its survival.

The society announced it is under threat of closure and needs to raise €100,000 (£86,000) by September. It has raised more than €40,000 so far.

It said it was "thriving" before the pandemic, as its international summer school brought together enthusiasts, experts and writers from across the world to Sligo. It is now the longest running literary school in the world, integrating an academic programme of lectures and seminars with poetry readings and cultural events and has welcomed luminaries including Paula Meehan, Eavan Boland, John Montague, Jessica Traynor, John McGahern, Mary Robinson and Edna O’Brien.

However, the pandemic forced the building to close to visitors and tours in March 2020. This was followed by the cancellation of the Yeats Summer School in 2020 and a pared back online 2021 version of the event, causing sources of revenue to dry up. The society said in a statement: "Careful financial management of savings has allowed the society to continue through 18 months of closures and uncertainty however, as an organisation without core funding, the future of the society and of Yeats’ legacy in Ireland is in peril."

Director Susan O'Keefe said: "The pandemic hit us hard and we lost all our revenues in 2020 and will do so again in 2021. We've been working here for 60 years to strengthen and protect the legacy of our national poet, William Butler Yeats. We know that people love his poetry, we know that people want to know more about him, and we want to help them to do that and we want to ensure that future generations can also enjoy his works. So we're asking you to help us to raise money to keep Yeats Society Sligo open so that we can do this valuable work and to bring poetry home to people, both here in Sligo, in Ireland, and across the globe."

The society was founded by contemporaries of Yeats in 1960, just 21 years after the poet's death. The Yeats Building houses a huge collection of books and other archive material, available for scholarly research. The society also runs the Hyde Bridge contemporary art gallery, with 11 exhibitions a year and the Penny Café. It also offers space to local community organisations to run cultural events.