Thursday, 19 March 2009

NO ARTS CO DOSH FOR ME - BOO HOO



Well, no Arts Council Bursary for me again in this new round-up. I'm really disappointed. I fit their criteria: full time artist, always working, being published, in need of financial assistance. And although I was shortlisted this time, I didn't make the cut. With my family expanding, I really hoped the pressure would be off me for a while to scramble about looking for ways to earn. There's only so many readings a girl gets to do (and at an average fee of €250, they're hardly the stuff of high earnings.) It's no wonder I don't write much new stuff anymore: I'm constantly looking for other forms of writing work: writing articles, translating, teaching workshops, judging lit comps, residencies etc. But soon (with a new addition to the family) I will have less time and freedom than ever for gadding about the country to give workshops, readings etc. It's hard to know what to try next. I did get a bursary in 2004 and it was a Godsend; I eked it out and made it last for over a year. I sometimes joke that I will be the only writer/vegetarian flipping burgers in Supermac's. Thank God there are four of them in the town I live in because, at this rate, I'll need to go and work there.

I wonder sometimes is it because I am not with a big publisher that the Arts Co don't give me a bursary? Both my publishers - Arlen House and Salt - are small operations, publishing books for the absolute love of literature, hopeful of a profit. But, generally, their writers don't earn advances or pots of money by being published by them. Both houses produce beautiful, literate, readable works but both fight very hard to survive in the commercial publishing world. Their writers are delighted to be published by such caring publishers, but they won't live off their earnings and neither will the publishers themselves. They rely a lot on funding and, without it, things get very hard.

Is it Arts Co policy, I wonder, to only support the already supported i.e. those with big publishers who can promote their work endlessly, or those already earning through uni jobs, long residencies etc.?

Last night, at the launch of the Cúirt brochure, Theo Dorgan lamented the loss of funding to the Arts Council. They, he said, have had to make cuts because they themselves have been cut. I understand this. But, for some reason, literature always seems to me like the poor relation in funding matters.

Theo said: 'The arts matter. Politicians need to understand this.' He also urged us - the artists - to take matters into our own hands. He called on us to contact Arts Minister Martin Cullen and ask him for a reversal of the €8.5 million budget cut to the Arts. I, for one, will be doing just that.

[p.s. The Cúirt line-up is fantastic this year: Joseph O'Neill, Carol Ann Duffy, Claire Keegan, Leontia Flynn, Aidan Higgins, Petina Gappah, Helen Simpson etc. etc. Go, enjoy!]

14 comments:

Anti-Laureate said...

My commiserations Nuala.

Sarah Hilary said...

That's a rotten shame, Nuala.

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

Thanks Pat and Sarah. I was really hoping for it this time. I'm feeling grumpy about it after receving the letter this morning. Bah humbug.

Caro said...

Sorry to hear about that. You'd have to marvel at the logic of allowing best-selling chick-lit authors to earn up to 250,000 per annum tax free when the tax that they should be paying on that money could go to supporting less commercial writers.

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

Ah, Caro, don't get me started. I'll be posting a link soon to an article I wrote on this very topic. Stay tooned!

Uiscebot said...

I received a few quid last year but thought it would be out of the question to apply again. Do they do a rolling funding thing? Are there other options open to you Like local funding? Can't you apply direct to the arts council as well as through your local authority?

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

Hi C
They do 1 yr and 3 yr bursaries. I did apply directly to them, as I have done pretty much twice a year since around 2003. It's getting disheartening. The form filling is no joke.

Local funding is farcical - the co co here offer 'artists award'. I've had a few but they need you to spend the money before you get it, and it's for a 'product'. i.e. a book. I just need money to live on, not to spend on a book that is already being funded by a publisher. (Essentially doing the publisher's fundraising work for them is what that amounts to. Or, less charitably, paying to be published.)

Nik's Blog said...

Ick. Sympathies.

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

Thanks, Nik. I'm not feeling as bad about it now. Trying to focus on the positive!

Tania Hershman said...

Oy, so sorry to hear that, that's really crappy. You are the only writer in the Irish Times "Ten to Watch" and you don't make the cut? Who the hell deserves it more?

Incensed in Jerusalem.

Emerging Writer said...

Oh jeez tell me about it. It seems easier to get funding if you can point at something the funding bought, like artists supplies or hire of a theatre or recording equipment. not when you just want time to create. Did they tell you you were shortlisted? Interesting. Any indication what you need to do to get it next time around? I agree, those grant forms are the pits.

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

Thanks T - hee hee! I appreciate your incension.

EW - I just don't know. But as I was shortlisted, they've asked me to contact them re 'upcoming funding opportunities'. Dunno what that means.

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

Btw, 68 applicants out of 390 have been offered funding.
Last time they got 373 applics and made 76 awards.
So, more applied and less got money.

OSLO said...

Nuala, don't blame you for feeling grumpy. I suspect that as the recession deepens, Ireland will be rebranding itself once again as the isle of music and letters, rather than hi-tech european hub. Shame the government doesn't have the foresight to put some more money in this direction :(