Delight at U-turn on Welsh Book Council cuts

Delight at U-turn on Welsh Book Council cuts

Following protests from writers and publishers, plans to cut £374,000 from the Welsh Book Council's budget have been axed.

Wales deputy culture minister Ken Skates said today (20th) that due to objections to the proposed 10.6% cut to WBC funding (the equivalent of £374,000), the cut would not take place. 

High-profile writers including Philip Pullman, Kathryn Gray and Gillian Clarke backed the campaign to reverse the cut. The petition, which launched on Monday (18th January), amassed more than 1,900 signatures.

Gray said: "I know that authors and publishers are absolutely delighted at the news – and all readers of books from Wales will be, too. Reaction on social media has been nothing short of ecstatic. We would like to thank Ken Skates AM for considering the enormous importance of this issue and so emphatically demonstrating his continued commitment to the literature of Wales and how it contributes in vital ways to our rich culture."

President of the WBC, Elwyn Jones, said: “In the present economic climate we appreciate the confidence of the Welsh Government in our work and we will put all our efforts into supporting the industry and promoting books in both languages.  We will also continue with our efforts to secure other funding sources to sustain and develop our work.”

The cutback would have affected 10 English-language publishers based in Wales - Parthian, Honno, The University of Wales Press, Gomer, Y Lolfa, Cinnamon Press, Firefly Press, Seren, Graffeg and Gwasg Carrg Gwalch. These publishers, and a number of writers, sent separate letters to the Welsh government condemning the cuts.

Penny Thomas, publisher at Firefly and fiction editor at Seren, said she was "absolutely delighted" with the latest news.

She told The Bookseller: "We weren't aware this announcement was to come. It's been such a great day as it shows that [the government] listens to the voice of the people. They've recognised the value and potential of the future. This is a vote of confidence in Welsh publishing. Thank you to everyone who supported [the campaign]."

She added: "We know we can compete with the big publishers but this is a vote of confidence in all the work we've done so far. We’re on the edge of breaking through and we just want to keep that going."

Skates also announced his plans for a national children's book competition, which he plans to make "the biggest in the country." Thomas said she was “very excited" and is "looking forward to find out more."