Man ends Booker Prize sponsorship deal | Ents & Arts News
Organisers of the Booker Prize are looking for a new sponsor after Man Group decided to pull out.
The investment firm, which has donated £25m to the prestigious literary prize and its international edition since 2002, said this year’s contest would be its last.
The Booker Prize Foundation said its trustees were “in discussion with a new sponsor and are confident that the new funding will be in place for 2020”.
Man Group has been an “excellent and very generous sponsor”, foundation chairwoman Helena Kennedy said.
The prize has been the focus of controversy during the last few years.
Best-selling author Sebastian Faulks described Man Group as “the enemy” and said the award was “irritating”.
He added during a podcast last year that Man were “not the sort of people who should be sponsoring literary prizes – they’re the kind of people literary prizes ought to be criticising. I wouldn’t feel happy about accepting money from them”.
But Man Group’s chief executive, Luke Ellis, said Faulks’s comments coincided with a period when “the arts are experiencing an unprecedented withdrawal of public funding”.
He added: “Literature and the arts need their champions to step in where public money has been pulled out.”
Another source of controversy was the decision to change the rules of entry.
When the Booker started in 1969, only writers from Commonwealth countries were allowed to enter.
But in 2014, authors from other English-speaking countries were admitted. Since then, two of the five winners have been American.
Two-time winner Peter Carey criticised the change, fearing the prize would lose its “particular cultural flavour”.
Winners of the Man Booker receive £50,000 – and generally see a spike in sales.
Victorious authors include Salman Rushdie, Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes and Hilary Mantel.
Speaking about Man’s decision to stop its sponsorship, Ms Kennedy said: “With their support we have seen the prizes and our charitable activities flourish so that today the prizes can claim to be the most significant literary awards in the world.
“However, all good things must come to an end and we look forward to taking the prizes into the next phase with our new supporter.”
Mr Ellis said Man would “focus its resources” on a new campaign to expand the firm’s global charitable initiatives.
“We are truly honoured to have been a part of something so special and unique,” he said.