What we're doing with our Arts Council funding

We are very happy to officially announce that Influx Press is now Arts Council funded. From the outside, funding can often look mysterious and you never really find out where exactly the money has been allocated. We like to be open about what we do here so I’ve decided to write a short post detailing what we’ve received and where we are going to spend the money. For me, it’s a bit like taxes – if I knew what percentage of my income tax went on the NHS and what went on defence spending I’d be much happier/angrier about the tax system!

Gary and I applied to the Grant for the Arts programme to fund our next three titles. We have applied to the Arts Council before but haven’t made the grade. Looking back on our previous applications we can see why. They went a bit like this:

Give us some money to print some books.
We’ll do some engagement and a book launch.
Give us some more money.

This time round we met with two lovely people at the Arts Council London offices to discuss a real business development plan. We worked out how to curtail our ambitions, how to make the money stretch as far as possible and where to focus our efforts. In a huge Orwellian ministry of culture building we sat under a ceiling fan in the highest ceiling you could imagine and sweated nerves of molten steel.

The application was arduous. That’s not to say it wasn’t worth it, but for two people like us – a punk and a golden era hip hop junkie – grant applications have never entered our lives. It took us about ten full days to complete. We argued over every word (each section has a 250 word limit) and at times felt we were just churning out shit soundbites on an endless loop. Luckily, as editors, we knew when our writing was awful. By then end we thought we had something good, so we transferred £30 from the lowly Influx account to Gary’s card and went to the pub for some beers. The pub being in neo-Hackney, this meant about a round and a half before it ran dry.

The Arts Council, after rejecting the initial application because we’d put £500 in the wrong place, agreed to everything we asked and we went ape shit in the office for about thirty minutes.

The main thrust of the application was ‘business development’ over six months and our next three titles. Influx Press has existed by the skin of its teeth since we started. Gary and I haven’t taken a penny (apart from that aforementioned booze money) out of the business since our first book, Acquired for Development By came out in 2012. Until the grant was accepted we have only been able to pay our solo collection writers royalties from net sales. Some of the grant money is to pay Gary and me a small wage for the work we will be doing over the next six months: editing, publicity, typesetting, hobnobbing – that sort of thing.

The main part of the grant is the bit we’re most proud of. We will be able to pay the authors of our next three titles an advance fee. It’s not a life-changing amount, but for us – as a tiny independent press - the ability to pay writers for their work is fantastic. We so dearly want them to be valued for their outstanding talents and I’ve felt really good being able to write a contract for them stating that they will get paid in advance of the book being printed! (plus payment of royalties will continue at 20% of course).

The rest of the money has gone on a few other things. Our office rent for six months, an accountant to teach us how to run the company books properly (payments to authors, tax returns etc) and an intern for six months. Up until this point we have had many requests from young people for internships with us. We steadfastly refuse to employ anyone for free so we haven’t been able to take anyone on. Now we have this grant money we will be employing someone for one day a week, well above the London living wage. We want this person to gain experience in the book industry that they may not have access to otherwise (due to circumstances financial or class etc). We will be teaming up with our good friends at Arts Emergency to find the right candidate and hopefully help them as much as they help us. Lastly, the rest of the money will go to our designer Chris for his wonderful work and also any artists that work with us on book covers or art inside our books.

We feel so lucky to have been given this money we are determined to spend it wisely. We realise that opportunities like this don’t happen to everyone, so we’re going to try our best to help our authors and other contributors to further their careers as well as make Influx Press a sustainable small press in the future.

Thank you for all your support so far with our literary experiment, without the success of books like Life in Transit, Acquired for Development By and Marshland, we certainly wouldn’t have got the funding we did.

We raise a toast the future of independent publishing!