ASA seeks meeting with Senator Mitch Fifield over Book Council

With appreciation to the Australian Society of Authors (ASA), this article has been copied from the October 2015 Edition of The ASA BULLETIN:

The ASA has approached Senator Mitch Fifield, newly appointed Minister for the Arts, for a meeting to discuss matters of concern to authors and illustrators.

ASA Chair David Day wrote to Senator Fifield on 21 September 2015 and continues to be in correspondence with the Minister’s office, seeking a meeting.

Following the announcement made at our own National Writers’ Congress by then Minister for the Arts, Senator George Brandis, we remain concerned at the composition of the Book Council of Australia.

While congratulating Senator Fifield on his appointment, Day also noted in his letter to the Minster that the ASA has serious reservations about the $6 million of funding for the Book Council taken from the Australia Council. “The support that was forthcoming when the BCA was announced last year quickly evaporated when people realised that no ‘new’ money was being allocated to the arts.” It was just being moved around, some of it from authors’ pockets in the form of less grants from the Australia Council.

Although the ASA has long called for a book council, we want one that broadly and fairly represents the different sectors of the industry and doesn’t sideline the people who create the books – the authors and illustrators.

David Day also addressed the May decision by the Government to take much of the Australia Council’s funding so that it could be disbursed instead by the Arts Minister. “This is a very retrograde step, taking us back to the 1950s and smacking of Stalinist Russia. The ASA, along with most of the arts community, would strongly urge that you reinstate the Australia’s Council’s funding and reaffirm the commitment made by governments since the 1970s that arts funding should be allocated by peer-reviewed panels acting at arms-length from government.”

David Day’s full letter to the Minister can be read at www.asauthors.org.

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