The Poetry Trust in Halesworth question future after funding blow

A HALESWORTH arts organisation was dealt a devastating blow this week as it missed out on vital Arts Council England funding.

Naomi Jaffa, director of The Poetry Trust, based at The Cut, described the decision as a “major blow and disappointment” and said its board of trustees and core team would now examine whether the organisation had a viable future.

The trust did not appear in the Arts Council’s list of 110 national portfolio of arts organisations (NPOs) sharing a budget which has been cut by almost 15pc. But it was not all bad news as another Halesworth organisation, the HighTide Festival Theatre, is a newcomer to the Arts Council’s portfolio, receiving �200,000 a year. The festival is now in its fifth year and will run at The Cut from April 28 until May 8.

HighTide artistic director Steven Atkinson said: “HighTide Festival Theatre will honour the trust Arts Council England has shown by providing audiences with leading standard theatre and flying the flag for the East of England nationally and worldwide.”

The Poetry Trust is one of the UK’s flagship poetry organisations and organises the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival.

The trust’s �51,427 for 2011-2012, represented about a third of its total income.

Ms Jaffa said it would take time to digest the news.

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“The Arts Council has been a long- term supporter and funder of The Poetry Trust and we’re grateful for its investment to date, for how much it has valued the importance and quality of what we do for contemporary poetry,” she said.

“This NPO decision is clearly a major blow and disappointment which will take time to digest.

“However, nothing changes the importance or quality of what we do for today’s poets, for poetry audiences and for poetry itself – all of which comes together with fantastic energy at our internationally acclaimed and hugely well-attended Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, now in its 23rd year.

“The Poetry Trust’s board of trustees and core team will now examine how best we can go forwards and whether the organisation has a viable future.

“There may be other Arts Council funding avenues to explore. There are certainly partnership opportunities to consider.

“Although it’s too early for specific answers or plans, our first priority will be to look to existing and new funders and friends to make sure that, at very least, the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival can have a future.”

Ms Jaffa added that the Arts Council England’s Cambridge office telephoned them early on Wednesday morning, when the announcement was made, to emphasise their wish to continue to support the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival – possibly via Lottery funding. “We’ll all be looking at the best way to proceed and secure the future of the UK’s leading annual international celebration of contemporary poetry,” she said.

As well as organising the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, the trust worked collaboratively on a year-long project bringing poetry to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

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