While the Performing Arts Community takes to the streets in the form of Grey Squares, BC writers are taking more direct action and one that is appropriate to their mode of communication: writing. Forming a Coalition for the Defence of Writing and Publishing in BC, they have started a campaign to send 100 letters to Canada's "most literate premier" (that's Gordon Campbell to you and me).
Here's what the coalition wrote in their press release sent out this morning:
Premier Gordon Campbell is known to be a literate man. He is the only provincial leader who has maintained a personal website about the books he reads.
Campbell’s government has even created a $40,000 national literary prize. Each year he takes the time to personally present B.C.’s National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction at a lavish luncheon at the Pan Pacific Hotel. This award was just raised to $40,000—from $25,000—matching the Ontario-based Griffin Poetry Prize and Scotiabank Giller Prize demonstrating his support for reading and writing.
Therefore three prominent literary arts groups are puzzled as to why provincial funding, which is used to support writers and publishers, was suddenly and completely eliminated by the Arts & Culture sector of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture & the Arts (Hon. Kevin Krueger).
“We know Gordon Campbell is sincere when he voices his hope that British Columbia can be perceived as the most literate place in North America,” says Margaret Reynolds, executive director of the Association of Book Publishers of B.C. “So maybe this is a hasty decision, essentially a mistake, and something he himself regrets. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense, given his principles and even his practice.”
Having formed a Coalition for the Defence of Writing and Publishing in B.C., literary arts groups are sending Premier Campbell 100 letters—the first batch of more to come—to ask him what has happened to his resolve to be a champion of literacy and reading.
“We are asking him to take a personal stand on this provincial issue—not for us, but on behalf of all the British Columbians who want to continue to read and write and publish books and magazines about this province,” says Rhona MacInnes, executive director of the B.C. Association of Magazine Publishers, one of the professional associations that was lambasted by drastic cuts.
The 100 letters sent to Campbell are not just from urbanites who are professionally involved in the province’s threatened publishing industries. They emanate from towns all over the provincial map.
“We have only just begun to write,” says Alan Twigg, publisher of B.C. BookWorld. “I have yet to inform our 100,000 readers what has happened.”
The populist newspaper, with a public service mandate, is supported by Pacific BookWorld News Society and distributed via 900 outlets in B.C., making it Canada’s most-read independent publication about books.
The Coalition’s new slogan KEEP B.C. READING will also be used to promote the stabilization of funding for the B.C. Arts Council whose client arts groups, including writers and publishers, face further provincial cuts.
The Coalition will send another batch of 100 letters in November.