I’ve reached something of a brick wall with my regeneration project and am having to think about new ways of moving forward with it and funding it. I only ever had a few clients which were interested in this as a subject and one has no commissioning budget whatsoever this year. The other is limited and in any case doesn’t cover the geographical area affected by housing market renewal, the policy I’ve been mainly covering. Besides, I’m becoming more and more dissatisfied with editorial as a means to support this work, which has accidentally turned into something of a long-term project. Not something I intended, believe me, but it feels like something I should stick with.
This is something I’ve been giving quite a bit of thought to recently, even more so since the project got a shout-out in the Guardian. There must be some but I can’t think of any other independent (and therefore permanently skint) writer- journalists who have tried to cover a subject in this kind of long-form way – unless it’s for a book.
There are of course many examples of photographers who do this all the time, and it seems to me that they are increasingly funding their work through grants. I haven’t investigated this fully but from a day or so of online research I’m not convinced that I am going to fit into the various pigeonholes – I’m a journalist and certainly not an artist so surely arts grants are out. I’m not a charity so charitable trusts are out. And so on and so forth. Some people seem to seek support from relevant foundations or organisations in their field but there’s not point in me going to any regeneration bodies, housing associations or similar because they don’t tend to like my work in this field. I can’t think of other organisations which will have any money to spare – all the housing campaign groups I’m aware of seem to seek donations for themselves on their websites.
I’m still looking but it’s quite an alien world. When applying for these things you need business plans, budget forecasts and timetables. Then there is the question of dissemination. How can I get the work out there if no one will print the stories in the first place? And I still need to find a focus for the project. Overwhelming is not the word.
What is certain is that unless I find a solution, I’m going to be unable to do anything other than the occasional story – and even then I won’t get beyond the North West. I want to spend more time in the more far-flung – and for me forgotten – areas affected by HMR, such as Gateshead, Middlesbrough and Hull. But with university fees to pay later this year and another 18 months of studies to finance, even the train fares are looking unlikely. To do things properly I would want to spend a few days at least in each place. So for now the research continues….
Please check out my latest Street Fighters story, below:
Eve Maley, Stoke on Trent
Eve and John Maley lived in their Stoke on Trent home for 43 years. But the 19-terrace block (above) – overlooking a Victorian park – was condemned five years ago after council surveyors declared them unfit to live in.
The Maleys and their neighbours spent thousands of pounds of their own money fighting the authorities – fighting them through a public inquiry and several high court hearings. They reached the end of the road in November 2009, and the final residents were forced to move on.
Despite the battle taking five years of their retirement and costing £12,000, Eve insists she would do it all again.
The Northwood scheme is being funded through the government’s controversial Housing Market Renewal scheme.
** I have consolidated all my regeneration work – including four years worth of written pieces and more recent multimedia pieces – on a dedicated website, STREET FIGHTERS. Please check it out **