Ahead of Brexit and the imminent General Election, the Society of Authors (SoA) has called for a commitment from the next government to follow future EU copyright law and the EU’s Digital Single Market Strategy, and to remain within Creative Europe or else increase domestic funding for the arts.
The requests are among a number in the SoA’s Election Manifesto 2019, published today (22nd November), asking the next government to "support Britain’s cultural heart" with funding and legislation
In its manifesto, the SoA argued the Copyright Directive should be transposed into UK law “to ensure that we maintain a strong copyright regime, harmonised with the rest of Europe so that we can still export to major markets”.
It also asked that the next Government put its money where its mouth is when it comes to supporting writers, translators and illustrators, particularly to “replace European funding and opportunities lost through Brexit”.
Acknowledging that UK translation is currently supported by EU grants and prizes, and that publishers often receive funding for translation directly from Creative Europe, it called for clarity whether the UK will continue to participate in Creative Europe beyond 2020.
“The government must either commit to remaining within Creative Europe following any departure from the EU, or to increasing domestic funding for the arts via Arts Council England, Arts Council Wales, Creative Scotland and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland,” said the SoA.
Other top asks in the SoA’s Election Manifesto include the removal of VAT on e-books, as stated in a recent letter to political parties from supporters of the Axe the Reading Tax campaign; legislation to address unfair contract terms, and help authors avoid being penalised by benefits, tax and National Insurance rules; and to support high street bookselling with “appropriate rate and tax concessions”.
It also asked the next government to “do more to combat piracy”, including blocking offending sites and introducing measures against serial offenders.
Addressing creative education, it meanwhile said it would like to see “much greater emphasis” on teaching creative subjects in schools, and renewed investment in libraries, including school libraries. It follows on the heels of comments made by children's novelist Michael Rosen last month that libraries ought to be compulsory in schools, backed by ringfenced government money.
“UK schools are currently under no legal obligation to provide a library. The next government should ensure that every child in Britain, regardless of background, has access to a well-maintained, curated library service, stocked with a full range of digital and physical reading materials,” said the SoA. “Ofsted should be required to include the quality of library provision in its assessment criteria, with schools encouraged to work with their local authority public library service to establish a school library fund to ensure the efficient provision of books to children.”
Philip Pullman, president for the SoA, said: “We call on the next government to realise the treasure that the creative arts and industries represent, and to look after them with a full consciousness of the importance and value of those who work in this field.”
The full manifesto is available to read on the SoA website.