Philip Pullman is to be the first patron of Literature Wales.
Pullman, who attended secondary school in Harlech, was appointed to the role as part of Literature Wales’ plans to encourage children to enjoy and create literature. Literature Wales runs initiatives including as the Young People’s Laureate Wales, Bardd Plant Cymru (Welsh-language Children’s Laureate), and the Writers on Tour funding scheme.
Pullman said: “Making it possible for school children to meet a professional writer (I don’t say ‘real’ writer, because children are real writers too) is one of the best ways of encouraging them to think that writing has a purpose, and brings pleasure, and can be a means of exciting discovery and a source of lasting satisfaction. It is also a great stimulus to reading.”
Chief executive Lleucu Siencyn said: “Literature is one of the most accessible art forms. Throughout our lives we are surrounded by stories; in books, on billboards, on screens, on stage and online. Written and spoken words are interwoven to give us thrills and laughs. They entertain, inform and inspire us. Literature Wales will continue to ensure that literature is supported as a democratic art form that belongs to everyone.”
The announcement of Pullman as patron coincides with the launch of Literature Wales’ 2016-2019 business plan. As well as children and young people, the organisation plans to focus on four other key areas: ‘participation’, ‘writer support’, ‘international profile’ and ‘digital creativity’.
Earlier this year Pullman signed a petition protesting against Welsh Book Council (WBC) funding cuts. The WBC was facing a 10.6% cut to its £3.5m funding from the Welsh government for 2016/17, equivalent to £374,000. The cut to the Welsh-language publishing grant, also set at 10.6%, would have amounted to £187,000. The plans to cut funding were later withdrawn.
Pullman is also president of the Society of Authors and earlier this year criticised publishers over author earnings. He said authors could soon become an “endangered species”. He said writers were operating in a "savage and hostile" landscape, being steamrolled like “ants”.