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Inaction on Authors' Fund a disgrace - Bradford

11 October 2001

Attention Arts Reporter

Inaction on Authors' Fund a disgrace - Bradford

Green MP Sue Bradford today said the lack of Government action on addressing issues with the New Zealand Authors' Fund was making it impossible for New Zealand writers to make a living.

The New Zealand Authors' Fund, under Creative New Zealand, pays authors a certain sum of money - called the book rate - for their books which are held in public libraries and are available to the public for free.

"This scheme is basically compensation to authors for the fact that their books are available to the public without them having to be bought," said Ms Bradford.

"It is crucial that our public libraries stock a wide range of New Zealand writing for the benefit of the public but it is just as important that authors are not disadvantaged by the public's free access to their books."

Ms Bradford said in the 30 years since the Authors' Fund was started the number of books eligible for funding has grown from 106,870 to over 700,000 while the book rate funding has dropped from $1.32 in 1974 to just 18 cents in 1974 values.

"The Authors' Fund has been severely neglected over the years and is now basically in crisis," said Ms Bradford.

"The current funding for New Zealand books held in public libraries is a disgrace which makes it almost impossible for many New Zealand writers to stay afloat financially."

Ms Bradford said despite the hard campaign on arts and culture at the last election she was particularly disappointed with the Government's lack of action on this issue.

"Eleven months ago the Government received an excellent report reviewing the Authors' Fund and setting out options and still nothing has been done. The Government is sitting on its hands while our writers continue to be seriously under-valued and under-recognised."

Ms Bradford acknowledged the brave decision of Fiona Kidman to recently resign from Creative New Zealand in disgust at the plight of the Authors' Fund and the lack of action to fix it.

"As the Green Party's spokesperson on libraries and unemployment, the neglect of the New Zealand Authors' Fund from successive Governments touches on both of these areas. Authors are being forced onto the dole because the worth of their work is not recognised and writers' willingness to have their work in our libraries must now be as low as it can get."

Sue Bradford is asking Question number six in Parliament on this issue this afternoon.


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