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Focus on literature in the South East

  • Date: 11 November 2010
  • Artform: Literature
  • Area: South East
poem projected on towers Westgate Towers, Poetry City, Workers of Art, 2010, Photo courtesy of Workers of Art

Grants for the arts awards are supporting the literature sector to develop in exciting and innovative directions.

John Prebble, Relationship Manager, Literature, explains: 'The Arts Council is supporting the great range of ways literature is being produced and disseminated today, as recent successful Grants for the arts demonstrate.

'Workers of Art's Poetry City weaves and displays poetry on the high street in Canterbury, which is so different to normal publishing. While Jay Clifton's ACE Stories is a live literature season taking place at two venues, Hotel Pellirocco in Brighton and De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill.

'Modern Poetry in Translation's website development, which was supported through a Grants for the arts award of £10,000, is making international literature available online.'

Projects supported span the literature artforms, including six prose/fiction projects, six poetry projects, three live literature projects (including performance poetry), two non-fiction prose projects and one publishing project (print and web-based work).

Grants for the arts continues to support literature produced by talented individual writers. From April to September 2010, £44,927 was awarded to nine individuals in the south east, including Liam Browne, Edward Hogan, Martine McDonagh, and John O'Donoghue. Grants ranged from £1,200 to £9,125.

Lewes-based poet Janet Sutherland is working with her mentor Fiona Sampson to help her complete her third collection of poetry, which will feature the trickster character, Bone Monkey.

'I'm now nearly halfway through my mentoring period, and the benefits are enormous,' says Janet. 'During the sessions, my mentor and I discuss the new work and its revisions, further reading of other poets and possible sources, and the poetry world.

'Having the sustained attention of a major poet on my work is such a privilege, and I am very grateful to the Arts Council for this opportunity.'

John Prebble says: 'We support new writing and in ways that are particularly appropriate to literature. Mentoring, for example, is a recognised way of honing the craft with a view to preparing work for publication.'

Worthing author Suzanne Joinson is embarking on a four-month writer-in-residence at Shoreham Airport as research for The Flying Machine, a novel about a female pilot and a WW1 veteran who was based in the British Mandate of Palestine. Her residency and planned activities at the airport is supported through an award of £9,125 and begins in January 2011.

Suzanne explains: 'I'm very excited about my residency. I will be collecting stories and memories of the airport from visitors, pilots, enthusiasts, volunteers and staff and compiling them all on a blog. I'll be organising workshops and writers' events too.

'I'm also researching the Visitor Centre archives to unearth details and stories of early female pilots, the early history of aviation and the role of the airport during and between the wars.'

From April to September 2010, £97,748 in Grants for the arts funding was awarded to five organisations in the south east. Grants ranged from £7,500 to 63,748.

Web art journal Disability Arts Online plans to nurture 10 Deaf and disabled writers in a one-year online project called New Voices, supported through a Grants for the arts award of £63,748. The writers will receive bursaries and training and will publish their critical art reviews online.

Similarly, New Writing South is supporting emerging writers through a new pilot bursary scheme called New Buds, with the help of a Grants for the arts award of £8,500. The New Bud Awards will offer small grants of between £200 - £900 to aspiring and emerging writers living or working in the region.

Chris Taylor, Director of New Writing South, says: 'We're very pleased to receive support for New Buds as it will help emerging writers at early and/or crucial times in their career - a small award may make a huge difference to their work.'

John Prebble says: 'New Buds is modelled on the Grants for the arts system, but aimed at writers for whom a Grants for the arts application would be too large-scale at this stage. The awards are about recognising talent, which ties into New Writing South's key role in identifying new talent at an early stage.'

John's advice to people thinking about applying to Grants for the arts to support their literature projects is to tap into the larger infrastructure that's available in the region:

'My perception of the south east is that we have strong publishers like Myriad, Waterloo, QueenSpark, Ayebia and Modern Poetry in Translation who are actively selecting and publishing high quality new writing,' he says. 'Individual writers should look to connect with the rich resource that's here.'

For literature organisations, John stresses the importance of partnership working in the coming years.

He says: 'Nationally, we're talking about partnership across all the art forms, encouraging people to work together. When there's less money to go round, we want to see things connected.'