Most authors are self-employed and work alone. It can be difficult for them to access funding and the SoA is concerned to ensure that authors have access to funding to enable them to create a diverse range of work - not just bestsellers.
While a number of charitable organisations are able to provide discreet funding for creators, such as our own Authors' Foundation and other grants. However, these is a great need for the ongoing support of funding via national and international sources.
Arts Council & Creative Scotland
The SoA works closely with the Arts Council and Creative Scotland to ensure that funds are made available to authors and to support literature - e.g. by supporting small and innovative presses.
We are concerned at the risks to funding, particularly funding for translation, to maintain diversity and understanding of other cultures. Much UK translation is supported by EU grants and prizes. Publishers also receive funding directly from Creative Europe which provides funding for the translation of literary works into different European languages. Translation is essential for understanding of other cultures and the range and diversity of our reading. Translated fiction is receiving increased interest. Research by Nielsen Book commissioned by Man Booker showed that sales of translated fiction have risen in the UK to £18.6m in 2015 from £8.9m in 2001. It would be a huge shame if that were reversed due to lack of funding. We do not know how these funds will be replaced. It is likely that the gap cannot be filled by tax exemptions or private sponsorship- particularly as sponsors are likely to have smaller funds because of the economic slowdown caused by Brexit. Creators will have to look to the Government for additional support and these will need to be forthcoming if we are to support the success of our publishing and allied industries and if authors are to be able to afford to remain working creatively.
Authors benefit both directly and indirectly from EU research funding. The UK is the second largest recipient of EU funding for science and research and therefore a loss of this funding is a major challenge for scholarly research and the UK’s place within it, and would also have a knock-on effect on the £1.1bn journal market. The Government should commit to securing access to EU research and cultural funding programmes, or develop new strategies for domestic investment to cover any loss of funding.
Lifelong learning & CPD
The SoA agrees that lifelong learning is essential. Most authors and many innovators are self-employed freelance workers. It is very important that continuing professional development is offered to them and not just to employees. We are particularly pleased that new legislation being introduced through the Digital Economy Bill will mean that basic, publicly-funded, digital skills training will be available free of charge to those adults in England who need it. Libraries are the best cradles of lifelong learning and we let them run down at our peril.
One way to reach this almost invisible workforce is through professional organisations and trade unions, including the SoA, which offer their members access to training and updates on industry developments. Further funding should be available for that training and for more intensive training and skilling courses. The SoA is also developing mentoring schemes for authors and will be applying for funding from the Arts Council and Creative Scotland. Government funding would be well directed to such schemes which take the place of traditional apprenticeships, which, by the very nature of writing, do not work for authors.
We agree that careers advice is important, but this must embrace risk and direct young people towards self-employment and innovation as well as down employment based career paths. Many innovators have several changes through their careers. For most authors writing is not their first career. This breadth of experience can be vital to innovation. We must ensure that careers advice focuses on flexibility, business skills, lifelong learning and does not discourage risk. Careers advice should also focus on essential business skills and where self-employed people can find advice and assistance.