Mixed fortunes for writing organisations, as sector suffers cuts
WITH a publishing house and a children’s literature centre, Fremantle has strong ties to the book industry.
But it is an industry that has fallen on hard times recently, with the latest blow a Federal Government decision to withdraw funding to the Australia Council for the Art’s new body, the Book Council of Australia, an entity that has existed for only a few months.
Writing WA chairman Dennis Haskell said it capped off a horrible 2015 for the industry, which also included changes to the federal arts funding model and the WA Premier’s Book Awards changing from an annual to biennial model, which reduced opportunities for authors and publishers to promote their work.
“The sector in WA is having to deal with the double blow – significantly contracting funding opportunities at both the state and federal level,” Mr Haskell said.
“Individual writers as well as the small publishers and writing organisations, which are key to the sector in WA, will suffer as a result.”
Hamilton Hill author Meg McKinlay said she had benefited from these organisations providing mentorship, masterclasses and funding, which has helped her develop her career.
“There’s a real energy about the sector these days, a sense of momentum and I believe this owes no small debt to organisations such as WritingWA now under threat,” she said.
In a case of mixed fortunes for local organisations, Fremantle Press was one of only two writing bodies to be successful in the State Government’s Organisations Investment Program 2016-2018, with The Literature Centre joining Writing WA in missing out.
Fremantle Press chief executive Jane Fraser said the effects of the cuts were immediate and the changes sent a message to the wider community that arts were not valued. “I would like to see the WA community championing local literature and all arts creativity in this state like no other state in Australia,” she said.
“Let’s become the arts capital of Australia, with corporate and public leaders who unequivocally support and value the arts as providing happiness and wellbeing through entertainment, recreation and contemplation.”
Poet Renee Pettitt-Schipp, Jen Jackson, of Paper Bird Children's Books, and Jane Fraser.