Sponsor backs prize until at least 2023; prize money boosted to £30,000
Rathbones Folio Prize has this morning unveiled a new sponsorship package from Rathbones Investment Management, with a substantial boost in support and prize money increased to £30,000, in what is being described as 'a significant expansion of their partnership, which secures the future of the Rathbones Folio Prize, Mentorships and Sessions until at least 2023. The prize was previously worth £30,000.
'The substantially increased sponsorship pledge from Rathbones will enable the prize Foundation to step up its charitable objectives, as well as increasing its PR and marketing activities, delivered by arts communications agency, FMcM and Prize Director, Minna Fry, respectively.
'Rathbones’ enhanced investment demonstrates its strong commitment to supporting an initiative whose Academy of over 260 writers gives the prize exceptional authority while enabling it to offer innovative outreach schemes, including its ambitious Mentorships programme and the acclaimed Rathbones Folio Sessions.
'The boost in support also means that the prize value has increased, with the winner set to receive a cheque for £30,000 at this year’s awards ceremony at the British Library on 20 May.'
The Rathbones Folio Mentorships, launched last year in partnership with First Story, will be now be extended, as four writers from the Academy are paired with four young writers from disadvantaged backgrounds for one-to-one creative writing tutoring for a year. 2018 mentor Kamila Shamsie said: "There are few things more gratifying than seeing a young writer improve from one week to the next and know you were part of the process."
The Rathbones Folio Sessions – 'a much needed, serious and expertly produced addition to literary culture' according to Max Porter – will continue in partnership with the British Library and also occur throughout the year at literary festivals around the UK. The Sessions are designed to engage the public with engrossing and adventurous conversations between Academy members. The next session – How to Write a Book in Day, hosted by AL Kennedy – will take place at the British Library on 19 May.
Andrew Kidd, co-founder and chair of the Folio Academy Foundation trustees, said: "Our ambition is for this prize and its related initiatives to become the most dynamic literary offering in the UK: with the Prize’s shortlisted and winning books exciting legions of readers; its Sessions engaging the public in lively debate; and its Mentorships providing a pathway for exceptional talent to emerge until, one day, perhaps, a Rathbones Folio Mentee becomes a Rathbones Folio Prize winner.
"It was clear from the outset that Rathbones – with their centuries-long values of 'honesty, integrity and independence' - were the ideal partner. The importance they place on social and cultural outreach chimes perfectly with the priorities of the Foundation, and we are grateful to Rathbones for the generous renewal of their commitment to working with us to realise our shared aspiration.'
Phillip Howell, chief executive of Rathbone Investment Management, said: "We are delighted to continue our support for one of the most important prizes in literature. The Rathbones Folio Prize brings a diverse range of outstanding writing to readers’ attention, enriching lives through the unique power of books. Beyond this, and as significant as the prize itself, are the mentorship programmes built around it. These have the capacity to transform the lives of young people and nurture the literary voices of the future."
The Rathbones Folio Prize was established in 2013 as the first major English language book prize open to writers from around the world. It is the only literary prize in which all the books considered for the prize are selected and judged by an academy of peers. When new sponsors, Rathbone Investment Management, came on board, the prize was expanded to include all works of literature, regardless of form. Previous winners were George Saunders in 2014, Akhil Sharma in 2015, Hisham Matar in 2017 and Richard Lloyd Parry in 2018.
The Folio Academy is a community of over 200 writers who may be called upon to comment on literary matters in the media, to appear at festivals and public events and to volunteer to mentor young writers in association with the charity First Story. Academy members include Margaret Atwood, Carol Ann Duffy, Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie and Zadie Smith.
Folio's announcement of a new long-term sponsor deal is in unfortunate contrast to the Booker prize, which has just lost its sponsor Man from next year amidst continuing fallout over the controversial decision to throw the prize open to the whole world.
Pictured: Richard Lloyd Parry winning last year (centre) with Philip Howell (left) and prize judge Jim Crace