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Empowering Creators: The impact of CLA’s donation to English PEN

Text "Support from CLA has helped bolster our work, directly supporting individual writers and campaigning for systemic change at policy level." on a navy background with the English PEN logo

At CLA we are committed to upholding fair compensation for creators and rightsholders while supporting the UK’s creative economy. As part of our dedication to this mission, we implemented a ‘Policy for Undistributed Amounts’, ensuring the unclaimed royalties are put towards meaningful initiatives within the creative community.

In 2023/24, we were proud to select English PEN as one of the recipients of these undistributed amounts. English PEN’s dedication to championing the freedom to write and read resonated with our values, making them a great choice for our support. Their advocacy for individual writers and systemic change aligns with our mission to protect and empower creators. The alignments between CLA and English PEN goes deeper than a shared commitments to creativity, it extends to a mutual dedication to education, and human rights. English PEN’s key objective, to ‘promote the education of the public by encouraging the understanding, appreciation and developments of writing in any style or form’, aligns with how our CLA licences facilitate the efficient reuse of content by 12.7 million students across the UK. English PEN’s advocacy for human rights, as outlined in the universal declaration of human rights and applies to writers, authors, editors and publishers, is a cause CLA fully supports, making the partnership even more significant in fostering a thriving creative and literary landscape.

We are delighted to share the impact of our donation with English PEN and highlight the incredible work they have accomplished with our support:

“We are hugely grateful for the Copyright Licensing Agency’s support over the last year. The need for our work is becoming more urgent by the day. As we continue to see the erosion of freedom of expression, both globally and within the UK, support from CLA allows us to be agile and responsive to situations as they arise, and to continue the vital work of protecting the freedom to write and the freedom to read.”

– Daniel Gorman, Director of English PEN

English PEN is one of the world’s oldest human rights organisations, championing the freedom to write and the freedom to read. Thanks to our members and supporters – a community of writers, readers, and activists – we protect freedom of expression whenever it is under attack. Support from CLA has helped bolster our work, directly supporting individual writers and campaigning for systemic change at policy level.

Over the last year, we have led on and joined significant campaigns for both individual writers in times of risk and wider, national issues of freedom of expression. In recent months, English PEN’s UK campaigns work has heavily focused on SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation). SLAPPs are lawsuits initiated by powerful individuals, with the intent of shutting down acts of public participation, such as public interest journalism, peaceful protest or boycotts, advocacy, whistleblowing, NGOs and academic comments. SLAPPs are a serious threat to democracy as they impede the exercise of freedom of expression, assembly and association. We have joined forces with media organisations, lawyers, human rights defenders and other members of civil society together in solidarity with targets of SLAPPs, to draft the model UK anti-SLAPP law and continue to campaign to see the draft bill made into law.

Working closely with PEN International, sister PEN centres across the world, and other like-minded organisations, we continue to raise awareness and provide bespoke and concrete support to at-risk colleagues – including by sending appeal letters to the relevant authorities, writing messages of solidarity, platforming their writing, and hosting vigils and events. Over the last year, we have campaigned alongside the families of Alaa Abd-el Fattah and Jimmy Lai, British citizens jailed in Egypt and Hong Kong respectively, calling for their release from arbitrary detention. We’ve also hosted respite residencies for writers and continue to work closely with writers in times of displacement, providing them with both practical support and creative development opportunities.

We champion writers of courage, supporting and celebrating translation through our public programme of events, online publications and prizes. Highlights include the PEN Pinter Prize, an award that celebrates courage on and off the page, recognising the powerful intersection between art and human rights. Last year’s prize was awarded to Michael Rosen, who was praised by the judges for his ‘rare, invaluable gift: the ability to address the most serious matters of life in a spirit of joy, humour and hope.’ Rosen chose Professor Rahile Dawut as the Writer of Courage, drawing attention to her unjust imprisonment for her peerless contributions to the study and cataloguing of Uyghur cultural heritage. In April 2024, we launched the PEN Heaney Prize. Complementing English PEN’s PEN Pinter Prize for outstanding writers of literary merit, and the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize for non-fiction, the prize will recognise outstanding poetry with a focus on social engagement.

We continue to promote bibliodiversity within the UK publishing sector via PEN Translates, our flagship translation awards. Last round, grants were awarded to 12 titles from 11 regions and 10 languages including, for the first time, titles from Montenegro and Switzerland. You can see the full list here. The next round includes additional ringfenced fund for works of Indian literature in translation, in partnership with the British Council. We’re also delighted to add a new strand of PEN Translates funding with the University of Chicago’s South Asian Literature in Translation project. Open to publishers anywhere outside South Asia publishing new English translations of any work of South Asian literature, PEN Translates x SALT strand will run biannually for the next 4 years.

We’re also looking at ways to make meaningful interventions earlier on in the translation process. To this end, PEN Presents supports and showcases sample translations, funding the often-unpaid work of creating samples, giving UK publishers access to titles from underrepresented languages and regions, and helping diversify the translated literature landscape. Further information on available titles can be found here. In addition to our grants programmes, our annual International Translation Day provides networking and professional development opportunities through hands-on workshops and panel discussions. Our online magazine PEN Transmissions platforms international and translated voices, featuring interviews with and personal essays from established and emerging writers. Highlights from the last few months include essays by Nayrouz Qarmout, Joseph Coelho and Hanna Komar, and launching a new commissioning strand aimed at writers aged 18-25.

The need for our work is becoming more urgent by the day. English PEN is only as strong as its community. To learn more about our work and how you can get involved, please visit our website.

You can find out more about CLA’s Development fund here: