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A CASE FOR LITERATURE: THE EFFECTIVENESS OF SUBSIDIES TO AUSTRALIAN PUBLISHERS 1995-2005

A case for literature, a new report to the Literature Board of the Australia Council has shown the vital impact its publishing subsidies program has had on the industry. It has also prompted the Board to re-consider the way it funds Australian publishers.

The report’s findings illustrate the important role of the Australia Council’s title-by-title publishing subsidies in supporting high quality Australian literature. It shows that around one quarter of funded books go on to win national and international awards.

Most publishers acknowledged that without support from the Australia Council many works of Australian literature would never have been published.

A case for literature highlights that in real terms Literature Board publishing subsidies have not increased over the past ten years. It recommends more flexibility with the assessment and acquittal process and the funding criteria, as well as calling for a move to block grants rather than assessment by single titles and an increase in publisher representation at assessment meetings.

The Literature Board commended the scholarship of the report, conducted by Dr Kath McLean, Dr Louise Poland and Jacinta van den Berg on behalf of the Writing and Society Research Group at the University of Western Sydney in May 2010.

‘This report confirms the success of the Board’s funding to Australian publishers. The Board is pleased to see so many titles get the recognition they deserve,’ says Susan Hayes, Director of Literature.

The Board discussed the report at its June 2010 meeting and has tabled the recommendations for further discussion. Possible changes to the structure of grants will be analysed in the context of current levels of funding available to the Literature Board, in terms of their likely impact on the publishing sector and on Australian literature in general.

The Board will consider this analysis at its policy meeting in February 2011, determining any changes to the publishing grants program with a view to ensuring that it is designed to meet the current needs of Australian publishers.

A case for literature: The effectiveness of subsidies to Australian publishers 1995-2005 is available for download here.

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