This document reflects discussion that took place as part of an Emerging Writers Festival closed forum at The Wheeler Centre on Tuesday 11 October, 2016.
The purpose of the session was to bring together individuals practicing within the publishing and literary sector to collectively devise actionable strategies that work towards a more culturally and linguistically diverse and inclusive industry. The catalyst was to create a setting in which individuals could discuss their engagement and perspectives of the industry to help further build the literary sector.
Compiled by: Hiroki Kobayashi
The agenda for the meeting included:
What does the literary industry currently look like?
Who are the different players?
How do they relate to one another?
How are power and resources distributed?
Whose voices / writing are well represented?
Whose voices / writing are under-represented?
What can be done to support increasing representation of cultural and linguistic diversity across the entire spectrum of the industry?
Some of the key points that came out of the discussion included:
Publishers and literary organisations need to take risks on writers.
Publishers need to fight for space for culturally and linguistically diverse writers on their bookshelves.
Festivals need to take risks so they can encourage readers to engage with new works that they might not otherwise read and push readers outside their comfort zones.
Ensure leaders within the literary sector are continuously engaging with work being created by culturally and linguistically diverse writers.
Encourage these discussions to occur across the sector and all organisational levels. Eg. Not just those specifically working to create better access within the arts but also people that holding the purse strings.
Create more opportunities for writers to build relationships with publishers and literary organisations. Writers approaching publishers isn’t just about having their books published, but creating bridges between writers and publishers.
Industry led network events that connect writers directly with publishing industry members.
Always look to bring new people into discussions and bring together people who usually don’t interact.
Publishers/literary organisations could work on public presence (eg. Websites, marketing) to make their communications more inviting and accessible.
Create and promote networking opportunities/mentorship opportunities.
While quotas can often be viewed in a negatively light, they could also be perhaps be used as a clear indicator and target for organisations to act upon and be held accountable for.
Some ideas around quotas could be decided in collaboration between publishers, literary organisations and writing communities.
What types of quotas would be useful within publishing and literary sector?
How do we ensure dynamic thoughtful quotas that are truly addressing the challenges and current gaps?
How do we avoid the use of quotas leading to tokenism?
Build and collate information around current demographic composition of the literary sector.
How do we better share information and evidence that individual organisations may have?
What type of information and data would be useful?
Celebrate and profile examples of how we can/are building a sector that is inclusive.
Publish, promote and celebrate positive case examples to continue developing and reflecting on best practice methods to ensure a more inclusive sector.
Moving forward, we will keep engaging in these discussions though further conversation across the sector and exploring ways to expand and deliver these actions in partnership across the literary industry.