Yesterday I received a ‘we wuz robbed’ letter from Quadrant complaining that its Australia Council literature grant had been cut from $50,000 to $35,000.
Quadrant editor Keith Windschuttle is calling the decision ‘patently political’. Given that left-leaning periodicals have had their funding maintained – particularly Overland which keeps its $60,000 despite coming out only four times a year instead of Quadrant’s ten, and having a far less distinguished poetry editor (Keri Glastonbury to Quadrant‘s Les Murray) – that looks like a fair call in the absence of any contrary explanation from the Australia Council. [Update 21/12: Crikey reports the Australia Council saying Quadrant was cut for having too small a group of literary writers.]
On the other hand, I’m not a big fan of these kinds of subsidies. It’s not just my usual philosophical objections to big government (and in the scheme of big government, a few hundred thousand dollars for magazines doesn’t make much difference). The Australia Council props up nine little magazines serving a small audience for literary material. Arguably this makes it harder for any of them to get the critical mass of contributors and readers needed for a high-quality, self-sustaining literary magazine. A few of them going out of business could help the rest. Continue reading “Quadrant’s funding problem”