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Kavanagh and Callil resign as emerging critics over lack of diversity

Book critics Bec Kavanagh and Jack Callil have jointly announced their resignation from the Copyright Agency-funded emerging critics initiative, due to the lack of diversity of the applicants selected for program.

In May, Kavanagh and Callil were among five ‘emerging culture critics’ appointed to write for Nine’s newspapers, supported by $150,000 in funding from the Copyright Agency and the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas. In a statement the writers said the selection of an all-white panel of critics failed to reflect Australia’s diverse arts community, calling it ‘a missed opportunity to support non-white voices in arts criticism in Australia’.

In a letter to their editors at the Age and Sydney Morning Herald newspapers, the pair asked that the funds allocated to them ‘be redistributed to non-white writers’.

Their joint statement reads: ‘We are thankful for the work done by non-white writers who have articulated the problems with this selection far better than us. Our resignation is not due to any pressure on us from these writers or the community, who have been incredibly supportive of our individual writing, but because we stand with them and support their call for change.

‘We are complicit in the problem. We advocate publicly for diversity, but it has taken us too long to act upon those ideas. Privilege allows us to take the time to talk to each other, and to learn, but it also demands that we do what we can to effect meaningful change.’

Kavanagh and Callil thanked ‘exemplary publications and organisations’ for their work in providing space for diversity, highlighting Liminal, Peril Magazine, Sweatshop, Pencilled In, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal and Mascara Review in a Twitter thread accompanying their statement.

The pair said they are committed to filing reviews of books they have already received and that their resignation is effective from the end of July.

Books+Publishing contacted the Copyright Agency for comment but did not hear back before deadline.


Category: Local news