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Adjournment - Island Magazine, Arts Tasmania Funding

10 September 2019
Rosalie Woodruff MP

 

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise tonight to speak about the devastating news that Tasmania's premium literary publication, Island magazine, heard last Friday when they discovered they had failed to win a renewal of their four-year funding arrangement with Arts Tasmania.

Island is a quarterly publication that has been with us in Tasmania for 40 years. It is a longstanding, essential forum for young, old and middle-aged Tasmanian writers to publish their work, to cut their teeth on a serious literary publication in the form of poetry, short articles, literary reviews, photographs, graphics and all forms of literary work. It has been such an important forum for people to represent the diversity of views in Tasmania. Island, as it is now known, has had an incredible range of editors over the last 40 years starting off in 1979 with Andrew Sant and Michael Denholm, Cassandra Pybus, Russell Kelly, Rodney Croome, David Owen, Gina Mercer, Sarah Kanowski, Dale Campisi, Matthew Lamb and, at the moment, Vern Field.

It has survived the travails of a global financial crisis, the coming and going of governments of all political persuasions, yet they found that they would no longer receive funding, the crucial support that they need, in addition to the support they receive through philanthropists, advertising, from the Arts Council and many different sources. This ongoing consistency of support, which has been there for decades now, has not been renewed. They say they have written to Arts Tasmania, who have agreed to meet to discuss and review the situation, and they will be making their case to continue to have funding for what we believe should remain for all new and emerging Tasmanian writers.

It has expanded enormously since 2015. In the last four years of funding they have had an ambitious expansion of Island, with the visual appeal of a magazine and an average tripling of subscriber numbers and growth in the sales across that period, which is comparing well with Australian publications. There is no doubt that it is a tough time to be a publisher of print media. There is no doubt that maintaining quality costs money. It is a line in the sand, essentially, for this Government, for the Tasmanian community, to back in Tasmanian quality art and literature.

I implore the minister to throw her support behind the continuation of this funding. We recognise that Arts Tasmania operates with a peer review process and we respect that. There is no doubt that Geoff Heriott, the chair, and the board members, James Hattam, Alison Wells, Dr Bastian Seidel and Vern Field are all doing their utmost to keep this quality publication here with us in Tasmania for the next 40 years. We implore the Government to do everything they can to support that.