I am terribly sad to share the news that Flambard Press, that wonderful small publisher in the North which has been the champion of new and established poets (and novelists) for twenty years, will close in 2012. The Arts Council cuts are the reason: Flambard did not receive funding to carry on. *
I realised that until now, I’d taken for granted the governmental funding of the Arts. When I moved to London in August 2007, I simply thought, well hurrah! the government puts money into the arts. And I do think this is a good thing. We are now seeing the ‘bad’ side of it: publishers who don’t have, haven’t garnered, or perhaps don’t know how to cultivate other forms of support (rich benefactors, perhaps). Or, as I understand to be the case, don’t have much of an option for that: I’ve heard London’s a better spot for ‘rich benefactors’ than Newcastle. Fair point. *
My complaint, the part I don’t understand, is why the ACE has appeared to take funds from many small presses and give more money to bigger presses. To me, the point of a small press is that it. is. small. It specializes in something: poetry, say, or discovering and fostering new talent. Or focusing on publishing local writers. Things big presses don’t tend to do. The niche presses can do wonderfully creative things that bigger presses might not. It’s like biodiversity. The Arts Council is killing the biodiversity of the publishing world! And I can speak from personal experience that us writing types can do a heck of a lot with a little bit of funding. Would it have done any better to cut everyone’s funds somewhat but not entirely? Would it have fostered more collaborations and fewer, but still excellent, publications? Or would everyone have whinged about that, too?*
My experience as a Flambard Press author has been an enormous pleasure. Peter, Margaret, and Will have been supportive and encouraging: indeed, I feel it was their decision to publish Darwin’s Microscope that made me an author: it legitimized me; gave me credibility to be published by a small, established, reputable press. It gave me the footing to say, I am a published poet. This is not a point of snobbery, but rather some of the formative moments of my development as an author. Flambard Press made me believe that I could do this writing thing. That I should do it. And I love them for that, and I feel a fierce loyalty to the press, and it is a shame to see them go. However, I do know that they will produce excellent books in this last year, just as they have done for 20 years.*
Forgive the re-blogging, but this is a must read: Carol Ann Duffy’s poem about the cuts.