The Ongoing Stushie, Part 3

“Restructure oversight for literature within Creative Scotland”

That would be such a good idea. And it’s not going to happen. The new Creative Scotland will most likely have no dedicated literature officer, since they’ll all be hotdesking and multitasking and groupthinking themselves into a Culture McFlurry.

Proposed "literature delivery system" showing ten areas recommended for changes

“Recommend Publishing Scotland to come under the aegis of the Independent Publishers Guild”

A few figures. Publishing Scotland claims to have 104 members. The Publishers Association – a UK wide organisation – has just under 150. The IPG has 480: if that figure is scaled back to regional averages, Scotland should have 42 publishers. This disparity always strikes me as being akin to claiming that Scotland has a thriving textile industry, since 98 grannies are all knitting their own scarves, and when you read Publishing Scotland’s membership, quite a lot aren’t, er, publishers. If members of Publishing Scotland want it to continue, then they should pony up the quarter of a million that the UK taxpayer is paying.

“Promote Edinburgh UNESCO World City of Literature brand through existing literature organisations rather than a dedicated EUWCL office”.

The City of Literature didn’t get off to a good start – when the great and good went off to Paris to present UNESCO with the proposal, nobody thought UNESCO would simply turn around and say “go on then” immediately. A lot of the earl y criticism rested on the lag between announcement and any form of action. That said, it has done a lot more in recent years. The Kidnapped Reading Campaign was a great idea, its lustre only slightly dimmed by doing Jekyll & Hyde the next year. There’s a lot of excellent work, but it tends to be more “behind the scenes”: schools work, readers’ groups, social inclusion projects at the like. The report also proposes a network of Literature Officers, with the Edinburgh Officer taking over responsibility for City of Literature, but gives no indication which “existing organisation” would be the umbrella body… Book Festival? Book Trust? Poetry Library? There is also the small question of boards: would City of Literature’s Board deconstitute itself? Would it merge with the board of the “host” body? These are technical questions, but require precise answers. City of Literature itself has released a strongly worded response.

Tomorrow: Final Thought and my own ideas.

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