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WA Prem’s Book Awards returns to annual cycle in 2019

The Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards will return to an annual format, beginning in 2019.

The decision was announced by the Minister for Culture and the Arts David Templeman at a sector briefing on 19 June and is in line with an election commitment made by the current state government in 2017.

The State Library of WA, which administers the awards, said it is finalising details and anticipates the new scheme will begin in 2019.

As previously reported by Books+Publishing, the WA Premier’s Book Awards moved from an annual to a biennial format in February 2015.

UWA Publishing director Terri-Ann White described the announcement as ‘very good news for authors and publishers from Western Australia’, but questioned how upcoming award cycles would be affected given the award was last handed out in 2016.

‘Many of us are worried about whether books from 2016, 2017 and 2018 will be considered in the judging. This anomaly happened once before when the awards were suspended to make way for a whizz-bang Asia-Australian award that ran once only. We crave stability in this community and seek clarification on this matter of what will be scooped up when the awards open again for entries,’ said White.

White also raised the issue of eligibility. ‘Many of us are keen to know which way the awards will be framed this time: in the past it was only WA authors who were in contention, then it was changed to join the design of the state awards and opened to all Australians. Both guideline approaches were faulty depending on what you wanted from such an award result (too parochial and not given any media coverage; too big and of little benefit to WA writers, as well as taxpayers in providing genuine local arts support),’ she said.

Books+Publishing contacted the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries for comment, but did not receive a response before publication.

Earlier this year, the WA government recommended returning the awards to an annual format as part of nine recommendations following a review of the writing and publishing industry. The review also suggested examining whether the awards could be delivered as part of Perth Festival’s Writers Week, and argued greater consideration should be given to differentiating the awards from other state-based and national book prizes.

Writing WA has announced it will host a session on 10 July addressing the changes to the WA Premier’s Book Awards, with executive director of Culture and the Arts Colin Walker to give an update on the government’s plans to implement the nine recommendations arising from the review.



Category: Local news