A recent study this year by Professor Katy Shaw at Northumbria University has highlighted the difficulties faced by people from marginalised backgrounds, including working class, into getting published. This follows on from similar research, like that of Professor Claire Squires at Stirling University, and yet the Arts Council and other publicly funded bodies responsible for the arts appear to be doing very little to address a continuing diversity deficit in publishing.
One of our very authors, Shane Johnstone, has written about what it means to get published when coming from a disadvantaged background, which of added obstacle when writing about certain topics. You can read his blog piece here.
Connecting with what Shane says, the study of Professor Shaw goes on to note literature plays such an important role in personal development and dispelling stereotypes, something we have argued for years and sought to tackle through projects undertaken by the Arkbound Foundation. The role of mentoring, which was cast aside in one funding application to the Arts Council, is explored in the study. Of those we work with, some have asked why – out of 3 years of social impact work – we have not received a penny of arts funding, despite millions of pounds going towards publishers with commercial objectives and none of the emphasis on helping disadvantaged writers. It is testament to our staff, authors, volunteers and trustees that we have fought back against this inequality, pushing into new areas and gaining recognition on an international level.
It may be somewhat ironic, as a disadvantaged organisation ourselves, founded with lived experience of disadvantage and Equalities Led from bottom to top, that we have not been mentioned in the study or linked research. The fact remains that many voices are continuing to be left out, but the onus of what has been carefully researched still has force.
You can see Professor Shaw’s study in full via https://arkbound.ac.uk/publishing/time-to-open-up-publishing/