The new federal government has started its term with positive messages about rebuilding areas of our national culture. The arts minister, Tony Burke, appears to be listening to what the writing and reading community are saying. The development of a new National Cultural Policy offers a rare opportunity for us all to inform the vision for the arts in Australia, and to advocate for the central importance of the literary sector. We need to seize this moment to ensure a thriving sector for years to come, which is why I am inviting you to make a submission as a part of the consultation for a new National Cultural Policy to be introduced by the end of the year. I’m writing my submission in my capacity as the deputy chair of the Australian Society of Authors, and also as someone who attempts to make a living as a writer.
The time to speak is now—or precisely, by 22 August, when submissions close. Here is the link. You have the option of either writing your submission or following a not-very-user friendly template.
We didn’t have a cultural policy under the previous Coalition government, and even in the last national cultural policy (under the Gillard government) literature didn’t rate much of a mention. Despite enjoying very high participation rates, literature is the most poorly funded of all the major art forms through the Australia Council and is the only major art form without a national plan nor does the Australia Council steward a national plan for literature. In the last decade, investment in literature through the Australia Council has declined by 40 percent. Author earnings are—as many readers of this blog would know—just appalling and continuing to get lower.
Literature needs a coherent national, long term plan as opposed to the the current approach in which policies and modes of funding change with every new arts minister or government. We need to try and imagine what ‘Literature’ will look like in ten years and ensure that it is supported by long-term arts policy rather than being seen as the poor cousin of the performing arts.
Whether you’re emerging, mid-career, or an established author your voice will count. We want an avalanche of submissions to hit the Office for the Arts.
Be inspired by the submissions of your fellow authors. You can read author Jennifer Mills’ submission here. You can also refer back to other submissions made to the Creative and Cultural Industries and Institutions Inquiry by a range of authors including Nick Earls, Gail Jones, Hannah Kent, Charlotte Wood, Malcolm Knox, Kate Grenville, Christos Tsiolkas, Helen Garner, Leah Kaminsky, Peter Carey, Trent Dalton, the ASA and more.
Sophie Cunningham (with the help of Olivia Lanchester), on behalf of the Australian Society of Authors.