For the first time in Quadrant’s 60-year history we have applied for a federal literary grant and been completely denied. A savage blow to our modest finances, it is a brazen political decision intended to devalue our reputation and demonstrate that it is the Left which runs and controls the arts
This is the first time in the magazine’s 60-year history that we have applied for a federal literary grant and been completely denied. This not only leaves a gaping hole in our modest operating budget; it is also a political decision designed to devalue our reputation and demonstrate that the Left remains in control of the arts.
Although the Australia Council itself suffered a loss of government funds in 2015, the Quadrant decision was not taken because of a lack of money for literature. Indeed, while abolishing our grant, the council increased its funding to other literary magazines, all of them left-wing. Instead of the one-year grant of $60,000 that we applied for, the others were awarded grants of four-years, with an annual increase of from $20,000 to $40,000 for each of them. The 2016 grants list for literary magazines looks like this:
- Australian Book Review, increase per year $20,000; total grant $560,000
- Griffith Review, increase per year $40,000; total grant $400,000
- Overland magazine, increase per year $20,00; total grant $320,000
The only leftist literary magazine to miss out this year was Meanjin, but it was teetering on its last legs anyway, with a succession of stop-gap editors since radical feminist Sophie Cunningham resigned in 2010 over plans by its board, Melbourne University Press, to end its print edition and publish it online only.
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None of these publications match the output, the quality, or the readership of Quadrant. With a circulation of more than 6000 buyers/subscribers per month, it is easily the best read of these publications. Quadrant is also the most prolific publisher of poetry in Australia, in either magazine or book format, with up to 300 poems published per year for the past decade. Our Literary Editor, Les Murray, has worked on every edition since 1990, that is, for 256 of the magazine’s 518 editions. He is not only widely recognized as Australia’s greatest living poet but also Australia’s foremost poetry anthologist. He has made an outstanding and enduring contribution to the literary arts in this country, unmatched by anything achieved by the minions funded by the Australia Council.
Griffith Review and Overland are only published quarterly and each struggles to find 1000 purchasers per edition. Australian Book Review and Griffith Review publish no poetry at all. Yet all three are also heavily subsidized by universities and other government agencies. And the contents of all three have long been dominated by left-wing academic literary fashions of postmodernism and critical theory. They are little more than production lines for the Left’s limitless appetite for identity group politics of gender, race and sexual preference, and its support for any national culture, no matter how violent or barbaric, except our own.
In contrast, since its founding in 1956, Quadrant has consistently defended high culture, freedom of speech, liberal democracy and the Western Judeo-Christian tradition. Apart from the grant we have now lost, we have no other public subsidies or major patrons. We survive entirely through the honest market revenues of subscriptions, newsagent sales, and donations from subscribers.
The Australia Council’s decision to end our funding is plainly an act of revenge by its bureaucrats and advisers. It is designed to punish us for being on the same side of the political fence as the Abbott government’s Minister for the Arts, George Brandis, who himself was responding to an act of arts-funding bastardry by Julia Gillard.
Faced with the certainty that Labor would lose the 2013 election, Gillard pushed the Australia Council Act 2013 through parliament with her partners, the Greens. This was intended to both entrench the existing bureaucracy and ensure a Coalition Minister for the Arts could no longer do what all his predecessors had been able to do since 1975, that is, make his own appointments to the Literature Board and other sub-boards within the organization. George Brandis decided to circumvent this Act by cutting some Australia Council funding and placing the money saved with a new organization, Catalyst, run from within his Ministry.
However, funding for literary magazines such as Quadrant remained with the Australia Council. In response to Brandis’s action, the Australia Council cancelled last October’s round of funding applications and made us apply in February this year, announcing results last week.
Our Australia Council funding has always gone to the writers of Quadrant’s literary content, that is, our poetry, short fiction, book reviews and essays on literature, film, theatre and the arts. We had to account for every dollar of this expenditure. The Australia Council did not fund our opinion pieces, political commentary, printing, Quadrant Online, or Quadrant Books.
The decision by the Australia Council is a blatant breach of its public duty to be politically even-handed. Throughout the eleven years of the Howard government, its appointees to the Council never reduced the funding of any of the overtly left-wing literary magazines.
Despite this latest blow, we are determined to maintain the quality of our literary output. We are also determined to preserve the volume of our content and the rates we pay the authors who write for our literary pages. We intend to show adversity can bring out our best.
In the second half of 2016, Quadrant’s marks its sixtieth anniversary. We have planned a program to make this a memorable year, with a number of innovations already in the pipeline. We will be sending out invitations and placing advertisements soon.
To do this, however, we need the help of our subscribers, readers and supporters to recover the funding we have lost. Please send us a donation (tax deductible), however modest. Please print the form below, fill it in and return it ASAP. Donations can also be sent directly to the Quadrant Foundation Thank you.
Appeal for Tax-Deductible Donations
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* The Quadrant Foundation is a tax-deductible fund listed on the Australian Government’s Register of Cultural Organisations maintained under Subdivision 30-B of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997. Donations of $2 or more are tax deductible.