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Oz writing bodies call for additional ‘disaster response’ funding, ELR/PLR to expand to digital

Australia’s writing organisations and the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) are calling on the federal government to provide additional funding to the Australia Council ‘to boost capacity for an effective disaster response’ in light of the effects of Covid-19 on writers’ livelihoods.

The National Writers Centre Network, First Nations Australia Writers Network (FNAWN) and the ASA are also calling for a ‘swift expansion’ of Australia’s existing ELR/PLR lending rights schemes to digital formats.

The statement, dated 30 March, comes after cultural industry bodies on 26 March called on the federal government to provide a targeted stimulus package and additional funding for the Australia Council for the Arts.

On 22 March, the federal government expanded the eligibility for income support payments for small-to-medium not-for-profits, however the Australian writing bodies have said further targeted funds are required ‘to support the survival and recovery process of this unprecedented disaster, without which the livelihoods of many artists, arts workers and organisations may never recover—particularly writers, for whom funding remains staggeringly low’.

‘Authors and illustrators are last to be paid in the publishing supply chain and will feel the impact of Covid-19 well beyond the next six months,’ said ASA CEO Olivia Lanchester in the statement. ‘We’re forecasting a slowing of acquisitions, scarce international rights sales and poor royalties in late 2020/early 2021 for a group already on extremely low earnings.’

FNAWN chairperson Yvette Holt said writers ‘are directly impacted with an unprecedented and unpredicted loss of income’, adding that ‘many First Nation writers rely upon these wages to support their families and in some cases their communities’.

The Australia Council for the Arts announced last week that it will re-purpose approximately $5 million of existing funds to support the arts sector through the coronavirus pandemic.

Outcomes of the Australia Council’s four-year funding round for organisations were to be announced yesterday, but the body has since announced a ‘small delay’ on the results.


Category: Local news