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Stewart 7th Jan 2008 14:36

Save Dedalus Books
 
I posted this over on my blog and I see a few Palimpers have signed already, but I'll post it here should others wish to add their name:

Quote:

British independent publisher, Dedalus Books, are, after twenty-five years in existence, threatened with closure due to the withdrawal of Arts Council of England funding. This is due to cuts announced recently which would see about two hundred companies across England losing their grant.

Dedalus Books, for the uninitiated, are a specialist literary publisher (more here) publishing both British and European names within their own niche market covering what they call “distorted reality, where the bizarre, the unusual and the grotesque and the surreal meld in a kind of intellectual fiction which is very European.” Some of the names on their list are recognisable Andrew Crumey, Honoré de Balzac, Eça de Queirós, and Nobel prizewinner, Luigi Pirandello. Of the greater unknown, they are, to me, a reading temptation.


In this Times article, a reason is given for the cut:
The Arts Council says the cuts are designed to concentrate its funding on organisations of excellence while penalising the average: “In the majority of cases this has been decided on the basis of . . . well documented issues with poor performance. It is the strength of artistic output.”
I don’t know about Dedalus’ performance over the years but it seems silly that they should withdraw funding from this niche publisher when, according to the Art Council of England’s literature policy for 2007-2011 (PDF), they list, amongst their priorities:
We want to increase the profile of international writing in this country by supporting those publishers committed to literature in translation.
And:
We want to increase the profile of international writing in this country by supporting those publishers committed to literature in translation.
The people at Dedalus Books must feel that their Arts Counci has failed them with such hypocrisy. What’s particularly galling is that the funding that has been withdrawn is, apparently, around £25,000. It seems like pocket change when you consider, according to this Observer article the Royal Opera House, over 2005 to 2008, stands to make £77m from Arts Council funding. In the Lords Hansard for May 2006, Lord Colwyn raised the point that “in 2005–06, jazz funding was £1 million; for 2006–07, opera received £62 million.”

While, in terms of audience share, both jazz and opera perhaps share parity, the funding is grossly weighted to opera, although that may be, as also noted in the Lords Hansard, the industry is worth £5billion. Since the bulk of the Arts Council funding goes to opera and that, as the figures would seem, is making enough to sustain itself, one wonders why they persist in funding such an art form when there are others, notably literature, that need the money.


Returning to Dedalus Books, they have a period of appeal which is coming up soon wherein they can state their case. What would be helpful to them is literature minded souls willing to sign their petition in order to get:
The Arts Council to reverse its recommendation not to fund Dedalus after January 2008 and to enter into a new partnership with Dedalus so the company can thrive and not merely survive.
The Arts Council of England also note on their priorities for the next few years that they “will create greater equality of opportunity for readers, writers and those in the publishing industry.” Well, as a reader, I would hope that the damning decision is reconsidered in order to give that “greater equality of opportunity” as I, for one, don’t want my only choices, in ten years’ time, being whatever Richard & Judy deem suitable for literary consumption. Okay, perhaps a tad extreme, but you know what I mean.

Further contact details and information can be found on the Saving Dedalus Books page.
I actually wanted to whinge on and on about opera. But restrained myself. :lol:

Wavid 7th Jan 2008 14:41

Re: Save Dedalus Books
 
Good call, though I think it is naive to think the Arts Council will reverse its decision. The impetus will be on Dedalus, and all the other groups who are losing funding, to raise money in other ways.

Stewart 7th Jan 2008 14:59

Re: Save Dedalus Books
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wavid (Post 81395)
I think it is naive to think the Arts Council will reverse its decision.

True, but nothing wrong with trying. Looking over some of the names that have signed it is interesting: Ali Smith, Andrew Crumey, Maureen Freely, Maxim Jubokowski, and Tibor Fischer. Bizarrely this particular decision (can't say for the others) goes against the ACoE's literature policy since they claim they want to improve on literature in translation.

The ACoE makes some sort of claims about how literature has changed to become electronic (eBooks, etc.) and how it wants these small groups to cluster together to become innovative. By the sounds of it you'd think they were trying to discourage proper publishing in favour of eBooks. No thanks.

John Self 7th Jan 2008 15:05

Re: Save Dedalus Books
 
Stewart has already mentioned him but it's worth raising again that Dedalus were the people who discovered Andrew Crumey (they still publish his first three novels). I'm looking forward to reading his new novel Sputnik Caledonia very soon and unless it is a real disappointment, I suspect Crumey will ultimately become a Palimp favourite along the likes of Yates and Moore. The notion alone that Dedalus might find another like him - or may have already - is reason enough to keep funding them.

Wavid 7th Jan 2008 15:05

Re: Save Dedalus Books
 
I read in the Indy recently about these decisions, an awful lot of theatre groups, some quite illustrious, have also facing oblivion. These decisions were also apparently against AcoE policy. I guess bean counting comes before strategy!

Wavid 7th Jan 2008 15:06

Re: Save Dedalus Books
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by John Self (Post 81399)
The notion alone that Dedalus might find another like him - or may have already - is reason enough to keep funding them.

Of course, I would like the Arts Council to keep funding Dedalus - just to make that clear. I just wonder whether these efforts - petition etc - are a bit of a waste when other things could be taking priority, like identifying new funding streams, etc.

Stewart 7th Jan 2008 15:56

Re: Save Dedalus Books
 
You know, I have Mobius Dick on my shelves. I might read it, although that doesn't really help Dedalus.

Wavid 7th Jan 2008 15:56

Re: Save Dedalus Books
 
You could do a sponsered read in support of the publishers. I'll give you a penny a page.

abecedarian 7th Jan 2008 16:29

Re: Save Dedalus Books
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wavid (Post 81410)
You could do a sponsered read in support of the publishers. I'll give you a penny a page.


I would participate if you did. Their catalog is awesome.

Wavid 7th Jan 2008 16:34

Re: Save Dedalus Books
 
Heh, maybe this is the answer to their prayers? I ought to charge for this stuff, I really did.


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