June 2, 2015
Every prize needs a new sponsor right now: IMPAC Award will be funded by the public
by Kirsten Reach
For the first time in twenty years, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award will not be funded by the American productivity company IMPAC. The company is now defunct, and so is the trust fund set up to reward important international writers. This year, it will be funded by the public.
Two weeks ago, the Folio Society recently announced that it would no longer fund the Folio Prize. The name could change with a different sponsor.
Dublin Councillor Mannix Flynn said that the IMPAC should be changed to recognize the city that is currently funding the prize, rather than the company that founded it:
It should be called the Dublin City Council City of Literature award or at least it should denote that the city backs the award [financially].
There is absolutely no sign of a [new] sponsor whatsoever on this. It’s a grandiose gesture when you have a city that is suffering from great austerity and the vast majority of artists are living well below the poverty line.
The only Irish writer shortlisted for the prize this year was Colum McCann. The prize hasn’t focused on the city where it was founded, though this could shift with the right sponsor.
It’s worth remembering that two years ago, the Orange Prize morphed into the Bailey’s Prize, though the mission to highlight female writers remained the same.
The Man Booker Prize remains the same in name, even as its sponsor has changed. The IMPAC Award committee hopes to keep the name as they search for a new source of funds.
Kirsten Reach is an editor at Melville House.