The National Writers Centre Network has welcomed the 2020 Parliamentary Inquiry into Australia’s creative and cultural industries and institutions report, ‘Sculpting a National Cultural Plan: Igniting a post-COVID economy for the arts’.
The Network acknowledges the significance of bi-partisan support for the arts through its unanimous recommendation of the creation of a national cultural vision, and the centrality of First Nations arts and culture in any such plan.
The report highlights the “essential nature’ of writers centres and other community literary organisations, ‘for their ability to develop writers’ skills and advocate for their interests”.
The Network is pleased to see recommendations for literature, including establishing a minimum threshold of Australian-authored literary texts in the Australian Curriculum (Rec 13), and a review of the Public Lending Right and Educational Lending Right (PLR/ELR) (Rec 7) to ensure authors are appropriately compensated for their works. The Network maintains that lending rights schemes must be broadened to include digital formats.
These are the first steps in ensuring better conditions for our nation’s writers and embedding a love of local literature for future generations.
The Network supports the creation of a national cultural plan (Rec 1) developed by a well-resourced Australia Council for the Arts. A national plan must include measurers for literature that ensures increased funding for literature overall, including greater resourcing for writers centres – which Writers Victoria patron Christos Tsiolkas noted in his submission is ‘threadbare’ – and greater funding of First Nations literature. Approximately 20% of inquiry submissions came from the literary sector, many of whom noted that literature now receives among the lowest federal funding and annual wages of any art form.
Jessica Alice, Director of Writers SA and member of the National Writers Centre Network, said that the report presented a compelling case to shape ambitious cultural policy.
“From the overwhelming response to this inquiry and within the report, it’s clear that literature and the arts are central to Australian life, and are due a national plan that ensures a thriving cultural future,” Alice said.
“As we recover from the pandemic now is the opportunity to invest in our writers, artists and cultural organisations for the public good, to keep the beating heart of Australian stories strong.”
Within the report are submissions from the literary sector, including renowned Australian authors, including Charlotte Wood, Helen Garner, Sophie Cunningham, Grace Lucas-Pennington, Allanah Hunt, Jasmin McGaughey, and Christos Tsiolkas, writers centres Writing WA, Writing NSW and Writers SA, literary advocate Kate Larsen, literary journal Sydney Review of Books and national body the Australian Society of Authors, among many others.
The National Writers Centre Network is a coalition of literary organisations Writers SA, NT Writers’ Centre, Writing WA, ACT Writers Centre, Queensland Writers Centre, TasWriters, Writing NSW, Writers Victoria.
For more information and comment contact:
Jessica Alice, Director of Writers SA