The Stushie, Conclusion

That the public funding of Scottish writing and publishing required root and branch reform is indisputable. The landscape is littered with bureaucratic reduplication – the “Literature Forum” has a staggering 24 bodies represented on it –  gravy-train grants, bursaries that never lead to publications, publications so amateur they’re embarrassing (who can forget the slim pamphlet of poems about G8 that got a whopping £25,000?) and worse. The Literature Working Group has, on the whole, taken steps in the right direction. But if they’d told us how many steps, how long they should be and whether they should be taken at a gallop or an amble, it would have been far better.  Unfortunately, unless you speak to bureaucracy in the idiom of bureaucracy, you leave yourself open to accusations of impressionism. It’s easier to cavil over details than principles.

Another report waves goodbye

The report at least hints at the Great Elephant in the Room: quality. In art debate speak, clotted with “access”, “entitlement” and “inclusion”, any idea that quality is a determining factor is treated as if you’d just advocated Ayn Rand’s Objectivism. Access to literature comes via reading, not writing. Some books are better than others. Some publishers produce better books than others.  Some organisations work better than others. Too often, arts bureaucracies operate like Police Academy, not discriminating on the grounds of race, creed, colour, gender or talent. Over the weekend, I’ll be discussing the Role of the Critic, and tackling the hand-wringers and their “But who are we to judge?” attitude.

Will the Report lead to change? Creative Scotland / the Scottish Arts Council / the Literature Development Office sometimes reminds me of the Bookman in The Gnome King of Oz. He turns over a new leaf every day, but it always the same.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “The Stushie, Conclusion

  1. MS

    ..and your actual suggestions for change are….?

    Hmm. Thought not.

  2. I would have thought from my other comments that it’s very obvious what changes I think should be made. But for the hard-of-reading…
    Grants shouldn’t be given without a contract showing that the work will be published.
    Publishing Scotland should be self-supported by the publishers that wish such a body to exist.
    City of Literature suffered from a lack of early clarity, and given that it raises as much as it gets from government, should be allowed a period of consolidation and a proper look taken at future directions; perhaps in concert with EIBF.
    Mentoring should be extended for aspiring writers.
    The Academy needs a proper proposal published before I’d agree or disagree to the idea.

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