Sunday, 25 February 2018

The Welsh Academy -- can it be brought back to life?

Out of the blue, following a number of posts on this blog about the apparent demise of the Welsh Academy -- and following heavy criticism from members on social media -- Chairman Tom Anderson has just written to all members inviting them to attend an EGM in Aberystwyth on 14th April 1018.   About time too, since members and fellows have heard NOTHING from the Academy since a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with Literature Wales in 2015 and since the "Writers of Wales" database was taken down from the web in the summer of 2016.

The thunderous silence has presumably occurred because the Management Board has been completely inactive.  If they have held any meetings, we know nothing about them.  But why such apathy from a group of intelligent and experienced writers?  A reminder of who they are:

Tom Anderson (Chair)
Dylan Foster Evans (Deputy Chair)
Lucy Christopher
Catherine Fisher
Delyth George
Matthew Jarvis
Jo Mazelis
Dafydd John Pritchard
Gary Raymond
Eurig Salisbury
Rachel Trezise

These good people were not elected by the members -- presumably they volunteered to do their duty, or were simply invited to  join the Board.  But who did the inviting?  Just one of many mysteries........

In the Academy's very strange constitution, 

1.  there are no provisions for membership involvement in the nomination or election of Board or committee members or anything else;  

2.  there are no provisions for the payment of annual subscriptions (in spite of which membership subs are collected annually by Literature Wales on behalf of the Academy -- under false pretences?);

3.  there are no provisions for reporting Board or committee minutes or decisions to the membership;  

4.  there is no bank account, and no guarantee that membership subs and other income are ring-fenced  by Literature Wales;  

5.  there are no provisions for the keeping or auditing of annual accounts or for communicating these accounts to the members;  and

6.  there are no exclusive membership benefits.  

So in my view the Welsh Academy is a cosy little club set up rather a long time ago by a group of well-meaning writers -- and which now tries to present itself as something else.  It is completely dominated by Literature Wales, which has in effect taken over most if not all of its functions while extending its reach and building up its power base.  The trouble is that Literature Wales is not a democratic membership-based organization either -- its dealings with writers are based on the principle of patronage, with non-elected officers exercising power in many different areas with minimal scrutiny either from the LW Management Board or from Arts Council Wales.

Let's hope that when the EGM takes place, there will be a good turn-out of writers who believe that the Welsh Academy has a real role to play as an organization devoted to promoting the interests of writers in Wales.  In order to achieve that, it appears inevitable that the links with Literature Wales will have to be severed; that the Constitution and Memorandum of Understanding with LW will have to be scrapped; that the current Committee / Management Board will have to be dissolved; and that a completely new group of people will need to take control of a process of transformation.  There does not need to be any acrimony in this process:  I believe that it can all be done amicably and constructively, with the support of the old Academy Board, the staff and Board of LW, and the approval of Arts Council Wales as well. And finally there will have to be ELECTIONS.........!!

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

The future of literature and publishing in Wales -- decision time

Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas

After all the fun and games of last summer (relating to the contents of the Report of the Medwin Hughes Panel) and the scrutiny by the Welsh Assembly's Culture Panel, it is rumoured that Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas will shortly be announcing his decision on what will happen next. This all relates to the future organization and funding of literature and publishing in Wales. Ken Skates (the Culture Minister at the time) said that he was minded to accept the main recommendations of the Report, which included the emasculation of Literature Wales and the transfer of additional responsibilities to the Welsh Books Council instead.

Now, however, Lord Dafydd has the Culture portfolio, and he might be more favourably inclined towards Literature Wales keeping many of its functions. On the other hand, Ken Skates is still his boss, and politicians who are in government do not like changing their minds or having their minds changed for them. So if Lord Dafydd decides to support Literature Wales and the status quo, that would involve a great loss of face for his boss. My guess is that there will be some sort of fudge, with LW allowed to remain in existence but with most of its functions transferred. "Literary Tourism" will almost certainly be transferred to Visit Wales -- and maybe some staff will move over as well. Some will no doubt be made redundant, since "economies" will inevitably include job losses.

Watch this space.........

To give some background, here is an extract from te Welsh Government ptress releaseof 14th June 2017.…/170613-review-in-to-support-for-publis…/…

Review into support for Publishing and Literature in Wales

Economy Secretary, Ken Skates has received the independent review into Welsh Government support for publishing and literature in Wales.

Wednesday 14 June 2017

Ken Skates: “Given the significant weight and compelling nature of the evidence received, I am minded to accept the main recommendations and the Welsh Government will now work with the relevant organisations to implement them.”

Quote from release: ………..One recommendation is that the Welsh Government should seek agreement from the Welsh Books Council to take on some of Literature Wales’ current functions, including Book of the Year (aiming to increase its commercial impact), bursaries, literary events and Writers on Tour and provision for children and young people.

The Review from the Medwin Hughes Panel is here:…/publishi…/support-for-literature-review/…

Ken Skates

The Llanwnda Bible and the French Invasion

This is a rather charming story which I missed when it came out in January.  The tatty Llanwnda Bible is now getting some TLC after being unpleasantly abused in and around Llanwnda Church in 1797, when French troops were in occupation.    Many pages were torn out of it to help with lighting fires, and other pages were used for "unmentionable things" including toiletary requirements.........  let us charitably assume that the French soldiers (many of whom were convicts and mercenaries) were unable to read Welsh, and were therefore unaware that they were desecrating a Bible!

Why are we mentioning it here?  Well, the Last Invasion figures very prominently in "On Angel Mountain",  and Martha strode into battle herself, capturing five French soldiers.  David and Billy, of course, were involved in a skirmish near Llanwnda itself.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Is the Welsh Academy breaking the law?

In the past, I have posted a number of comments on the sad demise of the Welsh Academy, which is the "writers society" originally set up to support the writing community in Wales.   For many of the 600 members, the web-based writer's database was the most valuable "perk" of membership, and was in itself worth the cost of the annual subscription.  Sadly, the Writers of Wales database was suddenly removed from the web, without any consultation, in the summer of 2016.

You can find out all about the Welsh Academy here:


Some of my concerns about the organization have been expressed here:

Suddenly things have taken a more serious turn, and two members of the Academy have asked, in a closed Facebook group, whether the organization is breaking the law by taking membership subs under false pretences, while providing no exclusive benefits to members.   It is, as far as we know, still accepting cheques and direct debit payments for membership subs in the knowledge that it is providing no membership benefits.    Full members pay £20 per year, and retired members £10 per year.

To make matters worse, it now appears that the organization has no bank account, since cheques are required to be made out to "Literature Wales" -- with whom the Academy has a 2015 "Memorandum of Understanding."

To make matters even worse, the Academy issues no financial accounts or statements to members, and has no mechanism for the scrutiny or approval of accounts since it holds no AGM.  So members have no idea what is happening to the money belonging to the organization -- apart from a statement to the effect that 50% of subscription income (up to a maximum of £2,500 per year) is passed across to Literature Wales for "services provided."

To make matters worse still, a scrutiny of the Academy's Constitution shows that there is no provision in it for the collection of annual subscriptions, so it appears that it is acting unconstitutionally in collecting any subscriptions at all, either on a one-off or continuing basis.

And since there is no democratic process by which members can elect management board members or officers, and no AGM, none of us who are long-standing members can do anything about it. And the months are ticking by since the web site and database suddenly disappeared.  Eighteen months and counting.......  we might as well assume that it has gone for good.

So we return to the key question -- is the Welsh Academy (with the active involvement of Literature Wales) breaking the law by collecting membership subs in the full knowledge that there are no benefits of membership?  And should it refund all monies collected from members over the last two years?

Thursday, 1 February 2018

The mystery of log lines

Some nice instructions re log lines.  A pity that the chap who wrote these words does not seem to be very good at sorting out his singulars and his plurals........

Been doing some serious research on log lines, and found lots of fascinating info. Here are some of the log lines for famous films:


The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.


The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster's wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.


Forrest Gump, while not intelligent, has accidentally been present at many historic moments, but his true love, Jenny Curran, eludes him.


A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.


A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.


A cop has to talk down a bank robber after the criminal’s perfect heist spirals into a hostage situation.


Set in unoccupied Africa during the early days of World War II: An American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications.


A wheelchair bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.


A Las Vegas-set comedy centered around three groomsmen who lose their about-to-be-wed buddy during their drunken misadventures, then must retrace their steps in order to find him.


Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.


An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maid’s point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.


Hollywood, 1927: As silent movie star George Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, he sparks with Peppy Miller, a young dancer set for a big break.


Blacksmith Will Turner teams up with eccentric pirate “Captain” Jack Sparrow to save his love, the governor’s daughter, from Jack’s former pirate allies, who are now undead.


During the U.S.-Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade colonel who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe.


With the help of a German bounty hunter, a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.


Lion cub and future king Simba searches for his identity. His eagerness to please others and penchant for testing his boundaries sometimes gets him into trouble.

RUSHMORE – A precocious private high school student whose life revolves around his school competes with its most famous and successful alumnus for the affection of a first grade teacher

THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS – A press agent, hungry to get ahead, is pushed by a ruthless columnist to do cruel and evil things, and is eventually caught in the web of lies that he has created.

BIG NIGHT – Two very different brothers promote their struggling 1950s New Jersey Italian restaurant by inviting Louis Prima and his band to take part in a sumptuous dinner there.

..... and is this the most boring log line ever?  But still it got made into a successful and rather charming film.....

BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY – An Iowa housewife, stuck in her routine, must choose between true romance and the needs of her family.