Arts Council England funding for projects to tackle disadvantage is accused of being “window dressing” in the context of local authority cuts and library closures. 

Books on a shelf

Authors have hit out at new funding for libraries, describing it as a “a sop, a smokescreen and a whitewash”. 

£3.9m from Arts Council England’s new Libraries Opportunities for Everyone Innovation Fund has been awarded to 30 projects in England. It aims to help libraries take innovative approaches to supporting disadvantaged people.

Initiatives being funded include literacy schemes, a coding club, cultural and creative events, developing an indoor soft play area on the theme of children’s literature, and providing digital equipment including iPads, virtual reality headsets, robotics and 3D printing.

But authors Patrick Gale, Mark Billingham and Francesca Simon have told The Guardian that the cash does nothing to help the fundamental crisis facing the sector. Simon said: “Libraries first and foremost need to be open, with professional librarians and well-stocked shelves” and described the funding as “window dressing against a background of £180m-worth of funding cuts since 2010 and over 400 libraries closed”.

Liz Hill