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Poetry Trust hopes to save Aldeburgh festival after funding gap forces closure

The Aldeburgh Poetry Festival

The Aldeburgh Poetry Festival

PETEREVERARD SMITH 2010

The organisation behind a Suffolk poetry festival has vowed to preserve the annual event, despite being forced to cease operating due to financial struggles.

The Poetry Trust announced it will be closing its office at The Cut, in Halesworth, at the end of the year – casting doubt over the future of the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival.

Although unable confirm if next year’s festival would take place, the trust said it was “absolutely intent” on finding a way to preserve the event for the future.

As well as all staff leaving The Cut from the end of December, the Poetry Trust will dispense with its full-time directorial post.

In a statement on its future, the trust said: “Given the difficult funding situation in the arts at the moment, we have decided that it’s the right time to take a pause and review how we operate.

“For many years, the trust has fought hard to raise enough funds for all the activity it undertakes as a year-round organisation and this precarious financial position does pose a threat to the future of the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival. By resetting the nature and scope of the organisation, we can minimise that threat going forward.”

The 27th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, held only a month ago at Snape Maltings, featured appearances by American poet and novelist, Kim Addonizio, and TS Eliot prizewinner, John Burnside.

The Poetry Trust said the future of the festival would be considered as part of a strategic review in early 2016 – along with related activities like the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, the Aldeburgh Eight Seminar, The Poetry Prom and the Suffolk Young Poets Competition.

The trust said it was “absolutely intent” on maintaining the existence of the festival, albeit on a “secure financial footing”.

Donations received after December 31 will be returned. Friends of the Poetry Trust have been advised to cancel standing orders.

The trust received lottery funding from Arts Council England between 2012 and 2015, as well as local authority support and donations from individual sponsors and charities.

Ian Griffiths, chairman of Suffolk Poetry Society, said: “This is very sad news for all of us but must be especially hard for those who have put so much into it over the years. We wish them all well with their futures and thank them all for their enthusiasm and energy in making Suffolk a national focus for poetry.”

Mr Griffiths repeated that every effort was being made to save the festival.

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