As most of you probably know, Poets and Players is a voluntary organisation funded by the Arts Council. In February we found out that our Arts Council bid had not been successful. We were surprised as we felt we have been doing a good job in the two years since our last ACE grant was awarded. We are proud of what we have achieved in reaching new (and substantial) audiences and providing a platform for a wide range of poets and musicians.
The Arts Council have funded us for a number of years and we are grateful for their support and appreciate the work they do to assist poetry in the North West and beyond. We are concerned about our situation, but we are of course aware that times are hard and our situation is not unique. We are sympathetic to other North West organisations who are in a similar position to us.
The Poets and Players team want to continue our work because we believe it is important, not just for the quality of the performances, but also because our events are free and inclusive. We believe everyone should have access to the arts, regardless of cost, and in this spirit we will do our best to secure funding. Due to the popularity of our competition this year, we have enough funds to pay for our next three events: April at the Rylands, May at the Whitworth, and our annual collaboration with Manchester Literature Festival in October (with much appreciated support from Cathy Bolton and MLF).
We have put together a revised bid which has now been submitted to the Arts Council. In completing the application and compiling a supporting document, it became clear to us how successful Poets and Players actually is. In terms of the numbers we attract and the quality and variety of our performers.
We value our loyal audience who travel from all over Manchester, the North West and beyond, and welcome new audience members at every event. We also value all the poets and musicians who have performed on the Poets and Players stage over the last decade.
In the process of making our re-application we asked various friends, collaborators, and past performers to write testimonials on our behalf. We were moved at the generous comments and depth of support received. We would like to thank the following people for taking the time to help us with this aspect of our bid: Maria Balshaw (Whitworth Art Gallery), Cathy Bolton (Manchester Literature Festival), Carol Ann Duffy (Poet Laureate), John McAuliffe, (University of Manchester), Michael Symmons Roberts (Manchester Metropolitan University), Simon Armitage, Liz Berry, Michael Conley, David Constantine, Imtiaz Dharkar, Nabila Jameel, Li Lu, Andrew McMillan, Kim Moore, Corey Mwamba, Arian Sadr and Liz Venn.