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Poetry Book Society fights ACE funding withdrawal | 10-Apr-11

The PBS has responded to the Art's Council's decision to remove its funding completely in one year's time. A petition has been launched against the decision.

Press release says:

'The tiny Poetry Book Society is fighting back against the Art's Council's shocking decision to remove its funding completely in one year's time.

In a letter to The Times on April 3, nine distinguished poets - the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Blake Morrison, Don Paterson, Simon Armitage, Wendy Cope, David Harsent, Jo Shapcott, Christopher Reid and George Szirtes - have protested against the move:

"We are shocked that the Arts Council has decided to withdraw all funding from the Poetry Book Society, a widely respected and unique organisation that selects outstanding poetry collections for readers and libraries.  The Society also administers the annual T S Eliot Prize, the most respected award for new collections of poetry in English. The PBS was established by the Arts Council at the suggestion of Sir Stephen Spender and both T S Eliot and Philip Larkin have served on its board. Thousands of people have been introduced to outstanding works of contemporary poetry, and poetry publishers have been given access to much wider readerships. The most recent Readings by shortlisted poets for the T S Eliot Prize staged at the Royal Festival Hall attracted the largest British poetry audience for many decades. We ask the Arts Council urgently to reconsider their decision which will have a devastating impact on poets, publishers and, especially, on readers of contemporary poetry."

Director Chris Holifield went on Front Row on Wednesday to protest against the loss of funding. In the meantime the PBS is getting a huge response to its appeal to poetry lovers, poets and its sympathisers across the country to support its cause:

The PBS has come a long way since T S Eliot and friends first set out our statement of intent in 1953 'to propagate the art of poetry' with the support of the Arts Council. We are stunned to have lost our funding after ACE's support over many years, which threatens our continued existence as an organisation which supports poetry and poetry readers through the Poetry Book Society itself, our two websites and the T S Eliot Prize.

Despite Wednesday's shocking announcement about the termination of our regular funding in a year's time, there is still plenty that can be done:

Please let Arts Council England know the extent to which their decision will affect you as a PBS member or poetry lover. You can do this by emailing the Arts Council's Chair, Dame Liz Forgan, (, and please do copy us in (

You can make a difference immediately by buying a membership or a book or, if you haven't already, by recommending PBS membership to a friend. Your continued support will help us to survive.

Finally, we have set up a petition online. Please take the time to sign this and pass it on to your friends. Let's send a clear message to the Arts Council that the PBS and its members are absolutely vital if there is to be an audience for poetry in the future.

For further information please contact: Chris Holifield, Director - tel 020 7831 7468 email  or Desmond Clarke, Vice-Chair - tel 01323 873448 email

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