Merton libraries receive £357,000 from Arts Council England

Fiona Razvi on stage in front of an audience with a microphone, in front of a Wimbledon Bookfest advert

Merton’s libraries have been awarded Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation status and will subsequently receive £357,000 of funding over the next three years to invest in cultural opportunities across the borough.

The additional funding is particularly welcome at a time where many arts organisations in London have seen a reduction or lost their funding as a result of government plans to invest less in cultural services in London and is another example of Merton bucking the trend.

The money is part of a £2.6m grant from Arts Council England to organisations in the borough, bringing growth and creative opportunities to people as part of a three-year £431m investment programme. Polka Theatre (£1.7m) and B3 Media (£550,000) have also received grants.

Working with Wimbledon Bookfest, the library funding will ensure that a high-quality cultural offer will be delivered across our libraries, utilising high quality artists and performers. A particular emphasis will be placed on enriching arts and cultural opportunities in the east of the borough and ensuring that all residents have access to high quality activities and events, a key priority of the current administration.

This prestigious achievement, which recognises Merton libraries as an excellent cultural organisation, is on top of other recent wards including a Book Industry Communication Technology Excellence in Libraries Award for the fifth year running. The award is given to any organisation in the book industry which provides high levels of digital access and quality in their cataloguing and presentation of stock.

Fiona Razvi, Festival Director of Wimbledon Bookfest, said: “Wimbledon BookFest has been working with Merton library service since it began 15 years ago, and this funding is great news. Our plans include a boroughwide Merton Summer Read, writing workshops and author events in libraries and a youth panel.”

Councillor Caroline Cooper-Marbiah, Cabinet Member for Sport and Heritage, said: “This investment is incredible news for our residents and our libraries, and will allow the council to offer fantastic cultural opportunities to residents across the borough to a broader and more diverse audience.”

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