Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bad news for books and publshers


Bad news on the book front. In British Columbia the provincial government has suddenly withdrawn all its annual support, terminating a 22-year partnership with the non-profit society that sponsors B.C. BookWorld. The withdrawal was announced by phone, giving little notice, and the B.C. book publishers’ association and the B.C. magazine publishers’ association got the same message on the same day. Callous, calculated or what?

At the Federal level our government has made similarly draconian moves, in one of the worst cases, entirely removing a program that supported artists (of all stripes) in their overseas travels. Most artists, apart from the high profile stars, have incomes well below the so-called “poverty line” as it is defined in Canada. Being invited to travel to galleries and shows may be a two-edged sword if the organizers are unable to offer full coverage. Going to an event and taking our Canadian culture along may be impossible

Another program that has been savaged is the support for magazines through postal subsidies. If circulation is below 5000 there is no subsidy. This hits particularly hard in small population areas (like Saskatchewan) but may not affect magazines with larger catchment areas like Quebec and Ontario.

It seems to me that the politicians are forgetting that culture is at the very foundation of what we are about as humans. They all went to school. Maybe some of them hated their English teachers.

Writing is the bedrock. With writing comes reading. There you have two of the Three “R”s. Without them, we are mere cavemen, daubing ochre and charcoal on rock faces, banging, scratching and blowing on primitive instruments.

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