£330k emergency fund for authors affected by Covid-19

by The Culture Newspaper

A £330,000 emergency fund for authors has been launched, the latest effort to support self-employed creatives.

The Society of Authors (SoA) says the fund “aims to provide as broad a level of support as possible” and will be open to all writers, illustrators, journalists, translators, scriptwriters and poets for whom authoring is a significant source of income.

The society normally distributes about £95,000 in grants of up to £1500 to authors in need each year but demand during the coronavirus outbreak had already risen to a level it couldn’t meet.

Now the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, the Royal Literary Fund, Amazon UK and English PEN with support of the T S Eliot Foundation have contributed £235,000 to the fund, tripling what the SoA had expected to distribute this year.

Grants are likely to be up to £2000 and targeted towards those in urgent need.

Expansion plans

SoA is talking to other partner organisations and funding bodies to try increase the pot.

“As the COVID-19 health crisis deepens across the UK, the incomes of self-employed workers from all sectors have been hit hard,” it said.

“Book tours have been cancelled, along with lectures, talks, performances and school visits. Others face indefinite postponements of contracts as broadcasters, colleges and other commissioning organisations close their offices.”

President Philip Pullman said modern authors are not simply sitting at their desks all day – they are “speaking, lecturing, visiting schools, teaching courses and other activities that involve meeting groups of people”.

“These are the very things that the Covid-19 pandemic is making impossible. With the cancelled event or visit there also disappears, of course, the author’s fee.

“This is the situation that many of us now face, and which the Authors’ Emergency Fund will do a great deal to mitigate.”

Other initiatives

New crowdfunding efforts to support freelancers are springing up daily. Wales Arts Review has a fund to support artists and freelancers who have lost work, and artist and producer Amahra Spence is running a similar fundraiser for the West Midlands.

The Creative Industries Federation and the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) are leading a campaign for a “time-limited and carefully targeted” income protection fund for freelance workers. Most of the leading sector organisations for UK creative and cultural workers have signed.

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