The Poetry Business faces cutbacks

Posted by Expert Gadget Reviewer on Monday, 30 July 2007

I happened upon news of local funding cutbacks to The Poetry Business from Jane Holland's Raw Light; let's hope this isn't a trend.


The Poetry Business has had its local authority funding withdrawn for the next three years. As from April 2007, NO literature organisation within the borough of Kirklees now receives any grant aid from the Council.

This is in spite of Culture and Leisure Services' stated aim 'to create a portfolio of partners which represent a good spread of art forms; a good spread of creative work with communities of interest; and a strong creative infrastructure'.

Writer Simon Armitage, who has close links with Huddersfield, called the move 'shortsighted' (Huddersfield Daily Examiner 21.7.07).

Twelve years ago, Ian McMillan, writer and broadcaster and a great supporter of literature, named Huddersfield 'the Poetry Capital of England'. Through its work with poets, the Poetry Business is now a flagship organisation both as publisher of Smith/Doorstop Books and the magazine The North, and as a promoter of poetry in the area, with our regular Writing Days and other help for local writers.
To many the name 'Huddersfield' is synonymous with poetry, and this is due mainly to the work of the Poetry Business.

What this means

Already we have had to make many cuts in our services, and that must continue. We are still supported by Arts Council England, but the Kirklees grant was nearly 40% of our total funding. This comes as a great blow.
But it's not just the lack of money that concerns us (all Authorities are having to make cuts to services - we appreciate that); it's the lack of belief that what we do benefits the borough in many ways. Two years ago they called on us to become 'creative partners' - their term, not ours. Hollow words.

How you can help:

… Write (by letter or email) to complain about the decision to withdraw our grant.
… A Kirklees Council spokesman is quoted in the Huddersfield Daily Examiner on 21.7.07: 'The Poetry Business Š is now not working as effectively as other applicants to contribute to the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of the district.' If you live, work, study, etc., here, or you visit the borough, can you let Kirklees know your opinion of this statement.
… People to write to:
o The Arts & Creative Economy team (;
o Director of Regeneration (;
o Councillor Smaje (;
o Chief Executive (
o Kirklees MC, Civic Centre III, Market Street, Huddersfield HD1 1WG.
o The Huddersfield Daily Examiner (
… PLEASE ALSO forward this on to any other people who may be interested.
… This isn't an appeal for donations. But if you can support us in other ways such as taking out a subscription to The North, or buying our books, we'd both benefit. Many thanks to all the people who have already responded to us.

The letter below is one which is winging its way to all of the above local government officials:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am hugely disappointed to hear that The Poetry Business is having its local authority funding cut, something which I understand to make up a significant portion of its overall funding. For local and national arts, as well as poetry's continued growth and development, this is a huge blow. As a reviewer for this year's excellent Latitude Festival and its extremely successful Poetry Arena (, I can testify to the fact that poetry is growing rapidly in popularity year on year, among all age groups and ethnicities, and that the funding of projects and organisations like The Poetry Business must continue to ensure further growth and developments within the art form.

Furthermore, it must be stressed that without The Poetry Business, many luminous talents would not have received the support and necessary aid to help develop their early writing careers: most notably the excellent poet, novelist and playwright Simon Armitage, but also in more recent years, poets such as Daljit Nagra, whose first pamphlet Oh My Rub!, published by the Poetry Business's press Smith/Doorstop, helped to ensure him a book deal with Faber and Faber, and confirm him as one of our most interesting and valuable new writers. Without the much needed local authority funding that The Poetry Business requires, then, the running of such a press and the annual Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition will be sadly, but undoubtedly, restricted. And that's not even to mention The Poetry Business's editing and publication of The North, one of this country's most important literary magazines.

I implore you, then, to reconsider the decision that has been made, and to take on board everything that I have said. The Poetry Business is, and has been for many years, a vital part of the discovery and publication of talented writers from across the UK. Without it, the growth and development of poetry in this country with undoubtedly be hindered.

Yours faithfully,

Ben Wilkinson