Society of Authors Opens £600,000 Hardship Fund for Scotland’s Authors

In News by Porter Anderson

Since March, 65 percent of professional writers, illustrators, and literary translators in the UK are reported to have suffered a loss in income, according to the Society of Authors’ latest survey.

In a sign of the times, a tourist shop on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile has its ‘Closing Down’ signs in the window on October 20. Image – iStockphoto: Serge Cornu

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Also today from Scotland: Publishing Scotland showcases its nature writers in a bracing, eloquent, and urgent new documentary, ‘Second Nature.’

Solomon: ‘To Make a Difference for Scottish Authors’
Amid a new and unwanted record in the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic in Scotland, the London-based Society of Authors today (October 21) announces its participation in with Creative Scotland in a £600,000 hardship fund (US$790,080) for authors working in the Scottish market.

Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has announced today a new five-tier system of restrictions, reported by Tom Gillespie of Sky News, the new-case total hitting its highest level yet, 1,739 cases in the past 24 hours, according to Justin Bowie of the Scottish Sun. Fatalities stand at a reported 2,653 and the overall total of cases at 50,903 in a population of 5.4 million.

Sturgeon has extended a control regimen on operations for restaurants and pubs to November 2, when the new tiered system of mitigation efforts will begin. Under the current regimen, hospitality businesses can stay open only until 6 p.m. indoors and cannot serve alcohol. Spirits can be served outside but only until 10 p.m.

The BBC reports a 6-percent drop in retail revenues in September, year over year, non-food retail plunging 14.2 percent.

Against this backdrop, the Society of Authors has become one of five delivery partners working with Creative Scotland, a public agency of the Scottish government, to distribute the funds in grants to authors.

Those other partners are the Crafts Council, Craft Scotland, Help Musicians, Visual Arts Scotland, and BECTU, the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union. The overall effort is meant to get to needy freelancers across the creative industries.

Grants for authors are to be processed and distributed by the same team responsible for the Authors’ Contingency Fund, with which Publishing Perspectives readers are familiar for its delivery so far of more than £1 million in hardship grants to authors since the start of the health crisis.

This new tranche of £600,000 makes Creative Scotland the Society of Authors’ largest major funding partner to date, enabling the organization—the trade union of the United Kingdom for writers—to continue supporting authors amid what many public health officials warn may become a deeply challenging winter.

Since March, more than £1.1 million in combined funds has been made available from Arts Council England, ALCS, RLF, The Literary Consultancy, and many private donors.

Nicola Solomon

In a prepared statement today, Nicola Solomon, the Society of Authors’ CEO, says, “This funding will be invaluable to the many Scottish writers, illustrators, and translators who have fallen between the gaps in financial support during the health crisis.

“The grants we will now be able to distribute through the Authors’ Contingency Fund will enable some authors to keep working in spite of financial losses, others to stay afloat while dealing with their own ill health, others to fulfill caring responsibilities–and still others simply to keep a roof over their heads.

“We’re grateful for the opportunity to make a difference for Scottish authors.”

The fund is to open on Monday (October 26) at noon GMT for applications. Authors in need should look for eligibility criteria and other information to be published on Thursday (October 22).

Survey: ‘Authors in the Health Crisis’

The news of the Scottish hardship fund comes only a few days after the Society of Authors released the results of its third Authors in the Health Crisis survey, which shows that 65 percent of professional writers, illustrators, and literary translators have suffered a loss in income since March, with less than a third being eligible for government help.

  • Those survey results also indicate that 49 percent of respondents say their coronavirus-related loss of income accounts for more than a quarter of their income.
  • Fewer than 30 percent of respondents say they’ve received government assistance.
  • Only 14 percent of those responding say their incomes have remained stable.

The survey is based on 511 responses from writers, illustrators, and translators questioned between September 7 and October 12.

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Society of Authors is here and more of our coverage of the UK market is here. More on Scotland is here, and more from us on authors is here. More on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.