The Booksellers Association of the United Kingdom & Ireland Limited

BA Launches Innovative Diversity Grants

25/05/2018

The BA Board has dedicated an unprecedented £50,000 to create a launchpad to innovative thinking, and ultimately enable real tangible change over the next two years in diversity and inclusiveness in bookselling across the UK and Ireland.The Diversity & Inclusiveness Grants (DIG) Project will offer £30,000 in 2018 and £20,000 in 2019 to bookshops to help them deliver practical initiatives to increase inclusivity in their shop or in their community. The emphasis is on making a tangible difference and improving engagement with under-represented communities.
 
The idea had its genesis at last year’s BA Conference, following the presentation by author and equality campaigner Kit de Waal, who has greeted the Diversity & Inclusiveness Grants Project with enthusiasm: “[this is] an excellent response to the issue of inclusion in the book industry.  It all looks brilliant and I’m sure will do really well. It’s a very exciting concept and one I’m sure will ultimately make a huge difference to booksellers and readers around the country.”
 
The grants will be awarded by a panel invited by the BA to oversee the grant selections – comprising:

- Nic Bottomley, BA President
- Cathy Rentzenbrink, author and former head of Quick Reads
- Uli Lennart, manager of Gay’s the Word Bookshop in London
- Sharmaine Lovegrove, publisher of Hachette’s new inclusive imprint Dialogue Books

 Nic Bottomley, newly elected BA President, said: “I am thrilled with this new initiative from the BA and inspired to be part of its beginning. The BA Board has been talking about diversity projects for some months and I am very proud that we decided to galvanise action in the bookselling community with the creation of this grant project. We know that there is a huge amount of energy in the bookselling community around inclusiveness, but that sometimes it can be hard to know what steps to take to make a difference. We hope that the possibility of a grant for bookshops will encourage booksellers to engage yet further with the issue and bring their trademark creativity and hard work to make absolutely sure that our wonderful industry is welcoming and relevant for everyone.
 
“We are excited about this project but our commitment to diversity and inclusiveness is not limited to the grants. As an association we are still learning and pushing ourselves to be the best we can be and ensure diversity and inclusivity in all that we do, including the awards that we curate, the events we put on. For awards, we have already committed to including a wider range of judges on all judging panels and, going forward, the BA Board will review awards processes to ensure that we represent the full breadth of talent across the country.”
 
Booksellers will be asked to complete a grant application form outlining their idea, and successful applicants will become alumni of the DIG Project and be invited to share their experiences with other booksellers at BA events and in a written report of their project – ensuring that the experiences created by the DIG Project are readily share-able and a community resource for all booksellers. Grants will be capped at £1,500 per applicant and can be for any amount from £250 upwards. 
 
Grants will be considered for any inclusiveness project – these could range from: projects to extend bookshops’ reach into under-represented and marginalised communities; improving access for disabled customers; creating children’s or YA reading programmes; re-thinking recruitment processes; building community partnerships; generating reading initiatives with schools; festivals; outreach to under-represented reader communities, such as LGBTQ; building a dyslexia offering – any project which allows booksellers who might be under-funded to create an inclusiveness project in their community which they can then share with their bookselling peers,  spreading best practice,  increasing confidence and creating a bank of case studies to inspire others.
 
Booksellers will be able to apply for grants from now on, with the deadline of 20th July for the first tranche of entries. The Judging Panel will decide on the successful 2018 applicants by early September, with the announcements made at the BA Conference in September.
 
BA MD, Meryl Halls, said: “I share Nic’s pride in being involved in the launch of this innovative project for bookselling. We know that the diversity and inclusiveness conversation is alive and kicking and we have been talking to stakeholders for a long time about how to create a project to support this. One of the challenges with diversity is its depth and range – we are potentially talking about projects that focus on socio-economic status, on race or heritage, on gender or sexuality, on disability and beyond, and it can be hard to garner the confidence to enter a conversation on a subject one may not have experienced first-hand. 
 
 “We hope to help booksellers make a difference in how they source and sell books which create inclusion and empathy, in how they source and employ new staff, and in how they discover and reach out to new communities. Inclusiveness is an issue for everyone, across the UK. Addressing it is the ethically right thing to do in our divided society, particularly when bookshops are, as Philip Pullman said ‘lantern bearers for civilisation’. It is of course also a potential sales driver where grants might galvanise projects which create new customers and thereby also improve footfall and cashflow.
 
Further information on the DIG Grants Project is available from Meryl.halls@booksellers.org.uk or on the BA site: https://www.booksellers.org.uk/Diversity-Inclusiveness-Grant-Project-Application 

Apply for the grant, here
 
The BA has also joined the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion (ENEI) and will be working with BA members to share resources and inspiration from the ENEI, as well as running workshops for BA staff members, as part of the BA’s own Diversity & Inclusiveness staff group.  ENEI will also be advising the BA on a new Diversity and Inclusiveness Member Survey for later this year.
 
The BA has also commissioned A Guide to Creating an Inclusive Bookshop, to be launched at the BA Conference in September.