A New Look at the Literature Board

The vexed question of grants to Australian writers is about to be revisited by the Literature Board, according to Susan Wyndham of "The Age".

This has always been an area of the arts that has attracted a lot of interest and criticism over the years, most of it derogatory. Those that get the grants are extremely happy and won't say a bad thing about the Board and those don't get them tend to be extremely unhappy about the whole process. Alex Miller, probably has the most interesting comment about the granting process: "Some people think that writers over 35 shouldn't get grants, but in my opinion writers under 35 shouldn't get them. They should get a book or to under their belts, do the hard yards."

There is a lot to be said for that approach. It certainly means that the grants go to writers who have proved themselves in the publishing marketplace and who have achieved this by doing what writers have done since time began: working at writing part-time till they perfect their art and get published. I don't believe you can compare the practice of granting monies to writer with supporting athletes in their youth. The career path of the two groups are vastly different, and the approachs they must take to achieve a high level in their chosen professions suffer no real comparison.

Now that is not to say that I think the amount of money given to writers and the amount given to athletes in this country is in a good balance, on the contrary. I would like to see vastly more sums provided to support writers in this country. We just have to do it the right way. We have to ensure that grants are provided which enrich the Australian culture, are provided for books that explore the Australian continent, its peoples and its history. But we also need to provide those grants to people who have something to say, not to those who just know how to write a good grants proposal.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on March 6, 2005 6:23 PM.

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