…and other important aspects of WA culture.
Recently, the powers that be decided to halve the funding for the WA Premier’s Book Awards. This decision came just after the spectacular Giants event in Perth, and just before the Perth Writers’ Festival. The timing (and the choice itself) was lamentable. It screams ‘You don’t matter!’ to the countless WA writers, librarians, book-sellers, English teachers, publishers, editors, and readers who make up such a brilliant and vibrant community – just before one of our important annual events. The announcement also came just after Perth had proven a passionate interest in the arts, with mass support for the Giants. It should be mentioned as well that the Perth Giants were inspired by ‘Lighthouse Girl’, a beautiful book by WA’s own Dianne Wolfer.
The bad news snowballed. The beloved State library may be slashing its opening hours to meet with government cuts, and the West Australian newspaper is reducing its weekly coverage of literature from a double page to a single page spread.
I’m gutted. And I’m not the only one.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I run groups for young writers. On a Tuesday, the children are between 8 and 12 years of age, and on a Thursday they are between the ages 11 and 17. These are children who inhale books. They love to read and they love to write. They give up their precious free time to learn how to develop both their reading and writing skills. I have no doubt that one day we’ll be reading their books. I try to keep them in touch with the wider writing community by bringing in guests (writers, editors, scholars) and talking to them about issues involving WA writers. When I told them about the recent cuts and announcements, they were horrified. They were furious.
This coming week, we will be writing letters and brainstorming ways to protest this. We will also be discussing WA authors and WA books, and how to support them. These kids are passionate about keeping WA literature alive. They are doing what they can.
What else is being done?
Bookseller, blogger and writer Emily Paull has started a petition here: https://www.change.org/p/colin-barnett-state-premier-of-wa-john-day-minister-for-culture-and-the-arts-asking-them-to-stop-the-cuts-to-funding-and-changes-in-the-format-of-the-wa-premier-s-book-awards?just_created=true
There is a twitter hashtag: #savethewapremiersawards
You can write to the West Australian and complain: https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/contact/
You can also read and share the numerous blogs and articles about these issues, and add your voice to theirs. This is important. This matters.