The Next Chapter” Looking for a new sponsor”
Hundreds of emerging writers have been helped, many of whom are now well-established. Since its inception in 2018, it has put up to $300,000 into the pockets of authors, mentors, judges and readers – putting it on par with some of Australia’s richest literature prizes.
Since June, the Aesop Foundation has been unable to fund The Next Chapter, a project run by The Wheeler Centre. There is still no word on whether it will return.
“It was an unbelievable sponsorship,” Wheeler Centre CEO Caro Llewellyn says of the $1.2 million commitment. “They were incredible. And we’re sorry to see them go.”
The next Chapter was designed to champion and support writers from underrepresented backgrounds: a “gap”, Llewellyn says, the Wheeler felt it was important to fill as “the same stories were being told [in Australian literature], and they were largely being told by white men”.
Each year 10 writers were selected, awarded a stipend of $15,000, matched with prominent writers to act as their professional mentors over a year (who were also paid for their work), given a writers’ residency in the Blue Mountains and set up with various connections in the publishing industry to further their career.
Though she is “hopeful” The Wheeler Centre will find a new sponsor for the program (and hopeful in the new federal government reinvesting in the arts generally), she says it would be a “miracle” to find someone to match the current financial commitment – “particularly in the current climate”.
Aesop Foundation has been a real outlier in its support of literacy and storytelling, pledging $7 million to local organizations since 2017, but Next Chapter support is only for four years.
“As a general principle the Aesop Foundation will partner with a particular organisation or program for a maximum of five years before a fallow period is required,” an Aesop spokesperson said.
According to Rebecca Costello, chief executive of Schwartz Media, which publishes The Saturday Paper, the prize may return in the future, but she declined to comment publicly on whether Aesop would return.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald