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Save Dedalus Books


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I posted this over on my blog, but I'll post it here should others wish to add their name:


British independent publisher, Dedalus Books, are, after twenty-five years in existence, threatened with closure due to the withdrawal of Arts Council of England funding. This is due to cuts announced recently which would see about two hundred companies across England losing their grant.


Dedalus Books, for the uninitiated, are a specialist literary publisher (more here) publishing both British and European names within their own niche market covering what they call “distorted reality, where the bizarre, the unusual and the grotesque and the surreal meld in a kind of intellectual fiction which is very European.” Some of the names on their list are recognisable Andrew Crumey, Honoré de Balzac, Eça de Queirós, and Nobel prizewinner, Luigi Pirandello. Of the greater unknown, they are, to me, a reading temptation.


In this Times article, a reason is given for the cut:



The Arts Council says the cuts are designed to concentrate its funding on organisations of excellence while penalising the average: “In the majority of cases this has been decided on the basis of . . . well documented issues with poor performance. It is the strength of artistic output.”


I don’t know about Dedalus’ performance over the years but it seems silly that they should withdraw funding from this niche publisher when, according to the Art Council of England’s literature policy for 2007-2011 (PDF), they list, amongst their priorities:

We want to increase the profile of international writing in this country by supporting those publishers committed to literature in translation.



We want to increase the profile of international writing in this country by supporting those publishers committed to literature in translation.

The people at Dedalus Books must feel that their Arts Counci has failed them with such hypocrisy. What’s particularly galling is that the funding that has been withdrawn is, apparently, around £25,000. It seems like pocket change when you consider, according to this Observer article the Royal Opera House, over 2005 to 2008, stands to make £77m from Arts Council funding. In the Lords Hansard for May 2006, Lord Colwyn raised the point that “in 2005–06, jazz funding was £1 million; for 2006–07, opera received £62 million.” While, in terms of audience share, both jazz and opera perhaps share parity, the funding is grossly weighted to opera, although that may be, as also noted in the Lords Hansard, the industry is worth £5billion. Since the bulk of the Arts Council funding goes to opera and that, as the figures would seem, is making enough to sustain itself, one wonders why they persist in funding such an art form when there are others, notably literature, that need the money.


Returning to Dedalus Books, they have a period of appeal which is coming up soon wherein they can state their case. What would be helpful to them is literature minded souls willing to sign their petition in order to get:

The Arts Council to reverse its recommendation not to fund Dedalus after January 2008 and to enter into a new partnership with Dedalus so the company can thrive and not merely survive.

The Arts Council of England also note on their priorities for the next few years that they “will create greater equality of opportunity for readers, writers and those in the publishing industry.” Well, as a reader, I would hope that the damning decision is reconsidered in order to give that “greater equality of opportunity” as I, for one, don’t want my only choices, in ten years’ time, being whatever Richard & Judy deem suitable for literary consumption. Okay, perhaps a tad extreme, but you know what I mean. Further contact details and information can be found on the Saving Dedalus Books page.

I actually wanted to whinge on and on about opera. But restrained myself.
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Dedalus books saved


Lindesay Irvine

Friday March 7, 2008



A real-life literary cliffhanger has had an unexpected happy ending, with the rescue of imperilled publisher Dedalus by another imprint.


The small independent, acclaimed for its translations of work unfamiliar to English-speaking audiences, had been left in financial dire straits by Arts Council England after its funding was withdrawn last month. The demise of its annual grant of some £25,000 put the whole operation under threat, and managing director Eric Lane had been planning to sue the Council.


But salvation has now arrived in the form of an equivalent grant from the Informa publishing group, courtesy of Taylor and Francis and its subsidiary Routledge. The funding will support Dedalus for the next two years. The publisher will remain entirely independent of Informa, who awarded the grant as part of its corporate responsibility programme.


Welcoming the move, Eric Lane said that the sponsorship would reinvigorate the company. "Financially, they've put us in the position we would have been in had the grant been maintained," he said. "It also means we don't have to spend time on masses of paperwork and political games with an organisation that wants us to fail."


Dedalus will now move ahead with plans for publishing fiction translated from Danish, Estonian, Flemish, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, as well as continuing with its list of original English-language fiction.


The programme, which Lane says is intended to help Dedalus become as independent as possible, will also include practical assistance from Routledge's technical teams.


Taylor & Francis's managing director Jeremy North told the Bookseller that the plan was "a great way to give something back to the wider literary and intellectual publishing community." He added: "Informa takes its corporate social responsibility very seriously - it's a very important part of what Informa is about."

"Lindesay"? Really?

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