Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What if your daughter wants to be an author Campbell Newman?

Today this news turned up on my facebook page. The Queensland Premier is axing literary awards to save taxpayer money. My heart sank. Then I read the comments following the article and my heart bled a little in the pit of my stomach. Apparently the only people not wanting these awards to end were the authors and according to one commentor they are  "leeches on society. Arts are not essential to life believe it or not."  I work hard to write material that will challenge and encourage children to pick up more books. The ability to read, the ability to understand and gain something from the content that is read contributes positively to an individual's success in society. If you can read you can teach yourself something new, empathise with the world around you and follow instructions. Reading enables people to provide balanced meals for their families. Reading can provide comfort and joy. It enables people to relax. It enables people to find solace when things are going wrong. It enables them to find solutions to problems. It enables people to prepare for new events like the birth of a child, or some other change in circumstances. The more we understand about the circumstances of others, the better our society functions. The arts have a crucial role in civilized societies. When controlling governments crack down on society, artists (including authors) sacrifice freedom and safety to express the truth. They are willing to risk their lives for their art. To dismiss art so easily is reckless.  

I earn very, very little from my books - significantly less than the average wage. I am not signed up for the unemployment benefit or any other benefit. I don't receive government funding. I do receive the public lending right which acknowledges that less of my books may be sold as people borrow them from the library. I am not a leech on society. I am a contributor. I pay tax. Authors might justifiably express concern about the loss of such awards because there is little enough money coming their way as it is.  Publishers as far as I know are not rolling in an excess of dosh that they can afford to present as prizes. It would be awkward to expect them to be unbiased toward books published by other companies. In any event they tend to spend their money on publishing more books which is their primary function.

There are awards for sports people - are those being axed?  Even though sports players in the top division can already earn enough to fund a myriad of bad personal habits? Or what about music awards for rock album of the year? Or any other album or top single? Or concert pianists or violinists. Are awards for league players being slashed?  Do league players awards actually result in more kids getting off the couch and becoming active? Is there a funding body supporting athletes to go to the Olympics? Is supporting that individual heading off to London to compete over just several days a better use of that $244,475? What happens if they don't place in the top three? Is that money well spent? Personally I think it is. If everyone in their chosen field strives for excellence the whole of society benefits. 

Why am I so concerned about something happening across the ditch? Its not like I could have ever won these awards. I'm concerned because societies learn from other societies, and often follow the same path. Because I am interested in the lives of others. Because I support authors everywhere who care about their craft. Because we are close neighbours who are already similar in so many ways. Because I want to learn about what happens there so I can fight against it happening here. Authors aren't ripping off the system, they are just trying to do what they do best. Shouldn't we all be striving for excellence rather than mediocrity?

1 comment:

Old Kitty said...

Aaaaargh! Who are these neanderthals running countries!?!? People without any long term vision run the world unfortunately!

Take care