In a recent tweet or does one say Xeet recently I touched on the state of poetry and the diversification agendas which affecting the production and dissemination of poetry.
Levelling up should mean an equal levelling up in terms of diversity.
I just read this interesting article which suggests that this is far from the case.
In fact as I suspected with my recent re-engagement with the great and good of poetry the funding as always is being tipped into the usual pockets mostly ex-University ex creative-writing course graduates who are the major engine of change in all fields of literature as the world copes with the mass-production of a huge amount of OK writers and the very occasional genius.
In most cases the cleverest have just moved to where the money is ticked the boxes they need to and carried on.
In terms of levelling in any case there has never been in poetry a overwhelming central powerhouse. London has the big novel publishers but are we forgetting all the great regional iniatives like Morden Tower and Bloodaxe or Carcanet they always up north and there long been a Scottish Poetry Library and now there (part of new agenda no doubt) a Manchester Poetry Library although Manchester will soon be only reachable by steam train if government has its way.
This is how bad it got:
While its budget for the next spending round (2023-26) will increase by 2%, the DCMS has instructed that all of it – some £43.5m – must be spent on delivering the government’s levelling up agenda. That is, redistributing funding outside London, where possible specifically targeting 109 prescribed ‘levelling up for culture places’ across the country.
In fact as kevin points out :
In addition, to further redress the funding balance between London and the regions, London’s National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) will receive £24m less, a reduction of 15% over the next four years.
If this money was cut from past their sell-by date white middle class institutions like the gloriously bad Poetry Society and its absurd Poetry Competition that would be a good thing but no that money will be scraped from the little guys in Peckham and Bounds Green. Levelling up never touches those highest up the ladder. It the ones at bottom that drown as always.
The racial diversity Catch 22 of sending all the money to regions that in a majority of cases have a smaller BAME population than London is brilliantly analysed by Kevin Osborne. I am not going to restate what he puts much more eloquently.
If only people like Kevin had their hands on the levers of power we’d all be in a better place and maybe we wouldn’t need levelling up down or sideways in the first place.
I apologise for stealing his graphic but it too good not to use…
ACE is robbing Peter to pay Paul (sorry biblical metaphor) but true.
This Boris Johnson fuelled Regional Levelling UP Gravy Train hits the buffers circa the next general election .
The fount of all knowledge and the root of all evil:
More than 1,700 organisations applied to become part of the 2023–26 portfolio. Of these, 990 were successful and set to receive a share of £446mn over three years. This includes 276 organisations joining ACE’s portfolio for the first time. Of the 990 organisations, 950 have been awarded NPO status. The remaining 40 organisations have been designated ‘investment principles support organisations’ (IPSOs). IPSOs are required to provide creative and cultural activity that delivers against ACE’s investment principles, set out in its strategy for 2020–30: ‘Let’s Create’.
The 2023–26 portfolio will replace ACE’s 2018–22 portfolio, which ends on 31 March 2023. The 2018–22 portfolio was originally due to end on 31 March 2022, however ACE granted a one-year extension for 2022/23 as part of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.