ONE of Huddersfield’s and Britain’s most famous writers has slammed a decision to axe cash for literature projects.
Poet Simon Armitage said the move by Kirklees Council was shortsighted.
His comments came after the council rejected a request for money from writer development organisation The Poetry Business in its latest round of grant applications.
It was the first time for 17 years that the organisation, which had been receiving around £10,000 a year, had been denied cash.
The Word Hoard, a co-operative made up of writers, artists, performers and musicians, also had an application turned down.
Last year the organisation received more than £8,000.
And the Huddersfield Literature Festival, run by the university, is also believed to have been knocked back.
It comes 12 years after Huddersfield was dubbed the poetry capital of England by writer and broadcaster Ian McMillan.
Mr Armitage, who started writing with The Poetry Business, said: “It’s shortsighted not to fund projects which encourage people’s imaginations.
“If people have active imaginations and are thinking creatively it’s better for their lives.
“The argument that we should be building new hospitals rather than paying for people to write poems is missing the point.
“Schemes like these keep people bright and alert and make them more healthy.
“There’s a great tradition in Yorkshire of writing and poetry and it should be nurtured.”
Janet Fisher, director of The Poetry Business, said salaries had to be cut, rented premises had to be given up and pay for contributors had to be ditched because of the council’s decision.
She added: “We feel that because we have worked with Kirklees for a number of years the decision is unjustified.
“Everybody’s grants have been cut and we would have been happy to receive a smaller amount.
“The council has limited funds – which isn’t their fault – but there isn’t one literature organisation that has been given money and they have withdrawn our funding altogether.
“It’s not just about the money. It feels like a slap in the face for all we have done.
“A few years ago the literature scene in Huddersfield was really buzzing, but I don’t think the council cares about literature now.”
The council divided the allocated £150,000 for arts projects between 11 schemes after receiving 21 requests for a total of more than £460,000.
Keith Jafrate, director of The Word Hoard, said he understood the council’s position.
He added: “The money is nice, but our existence doesn’t depend on it. If they want to take the money away we won’t beat our breasts about it.”
A council spokesman said there was no conscious decision not to fund literature organisations.
He added: “Two applications were received from literature organisations.
“Unfortunately they did not score as highly as others as they could not prove as well as others their impact on Kirklees.
“We recognise that The Poetry Business is very well respected within the poetry world and has in the past helped to put Kirklees on themap.’’
However, he added: “But it is now not working as effectively as other applicants to contribute to the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of the district.”