Writer in Residence

Poetry Tours: Funding

By Manahil Bandukwala

Last time on the WIR blog, I talked about tips for planning a poetry tour, including tips on building a tour from existing events. In this post, I hope to share some resources on funding a poetry tour, as well as insights into the application processes. Publishers can help with some costs, but small publishers especially rarely have the funds available to fund entire tours for their authors.

The League of Canadian Poets and the Canada Council for the Arts were the two main funding bodies I used for tour funding, but I’m going to link other resources I’ve come across here as well. The eligibility criteria is different for each funding body, which is just something to keep an eye out for! 

Books on a bookshelf

Inside Russell Books, the venue where Planet Earth Poetry in Victoria takes place

The League of Canadian Poets

I highly recommend becoming a member of the League of Canadian Poets. There are membership fees, but you make them up over the year with the reading fees and travel reimbursements the membership covers. An LCP membership also makes you eligible for one of the awards! 

The LCP is great for funding events that you’re organizing yourself, or one that is organized without an affiliation to a reading series or festival. As a bonus, if other readers on the lineup are members of the LCP, they can also get paid for their reading. You can get travel up to $300 covered as well. 

I highly recommend subscribing to the LCP’s newsletter to receive updates on when the funding stream is open.

Since I applied for my tour, the LCP also offers individual poets opportunities to apply for blocks of funding for poetry tours, so do look into that!

Canada Council for the Arts

The travel components for Arts Across Canada and Arts Abroad funded my tours in British Columbia and the U.S., respectively. This funding is available for events that take place at least 500 km from your home, and covers travel and a per diem. You must be invited to at least one event to apply to this funding.

For my British Columbia tour, I was invited to read at Planet Earth Poetry in Victoria and requested a letter of confirmation from the organization. This funding helped with the flight to Victoria, and once I was there, organizing events in Vancouver was much easier. For the U.S., I was invited to present at a panel at AWP, and had a screenshot of the website page that confirmed the nature of my participation. 

These applications are fairly involved and require you to create an account in the portal and to submit your profile for validation, so if you’re considering this funding stream, start early! However, there is no deadline for this funding—you can apply any time before your travel starts. It will take at least a month to hear a decision, and a few weeks after that to receive the funds if you’re successful, so keep that in mind as well when planning.

This funding is available for all arts, not just writing. If you have a multidisciplinary tour planned like I did, this is a great avenue to secure funding for all the artists involved. 

The Writers Union of Canada

I’m not a member of TWUC, so I don’t know about specific application processes. I do have writer friends who secured funding and honoraria for their events through TWUC, so do look into this resource if you’re interested.

Ontario Arts Council 

The Ontario Arts Council opened up its Touring and Circulation Projects fund in 2023. This funding wasn’t available when I was applying for my fall tour, so I don’t have any specific advice to give, but the source is linked above. This funding is only available for Ontario artists, of course, but your provincial and municipal funding bodies may have something similar.

Off the top of my head, I know of the Quebec Writers Federation and the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia. 

That is all I have to share here, but I’ll close this post with this: talk to other writers to find out how they’ve funded their own book tours. I found out about these funding options through friends’ recommendations from their own tours. Your publisher might also have information about funding sources you can look into. 

Best of luck, and I’m sending good money vibes your way!

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.

Manahil Bandukwala is a multidisciplinary artist and writer. She is the author of Women Wide Awake (Mawenzi House, 2023) and Monument (Brick Books, 2022; shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award), and numerous chapbooks. In 2023, she was selected as a Writer's Trust Rising Star. See her work at manahilbandukwala.com.