Monday, 26 June 2017

Does Literature Wales face extermination?

So Literature Wales now says it has "serious concerns" about the Medwin Hughes Committee Report on literature and publishing in Wales. So would you or I, if faced with instant extermination! As The Bookseller reports, the organization is likely to have virtually all of its functions taken away from it.... and that being the case, there is really no reason for its continued existence.  You do not need a Cardiff office with lots of staff just to run a small writer's centre (Ty Newydd) in North Wales......

Lit Wales staff met the other day with Cabinet Secretary Ken Skates -- a fly on the wall would have had much to savour.......

Lit Wales will no doubt claim that it is sorely misunderstood, and that it fulfills a number of functions for which it is uniquely qualified. Increasingly, it seems to see itself as a sort of marketing agency.   But an organization that uses up 75% of its annual budget on staff costs is clearly not very useful to anybody except its own employees, and to those who have tried to support it over the years (like me) it has for some time appeared elitist, arrogant, complacent and incestuous, existing primarily to ensure that the subsidy-based culture (or gravy train, if you want to call it that) of Welsh literature keeps going.  The Medwin Hughes Committee mentioned the pervasive culture of "entitlement" that runs through Lit Wales.  That culture is shared by the members of the Welsh literary establishment -- driven by the belief that literary endeavour is a wondrous thing in itself, indicative of a vibrant Welsh culture.  There is a widespread and naive failure to understand the commercial realities of the literary and publishing world. 

Now that everything is under review, the key question that all those in the writing and publishing world need to ask is this:  Is there really any point in paying writers to write things that nobody wants to read, and in paying publishers to produce books that nobody wants to buy?

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