Following an independent review into Welsh Government’s support of publishing and literature, it has been suggested that Welsh Books Council take some responsibilities from Literature in Wales, including the Book of the Year prize. Commissioned by Economy Secretary, Ken Skates, the intention was to paint a clear picture of how Welsh Government is contributing to the industry, suggesting that the Government should provide “appropriate” financial support for Wales’ bi-lingual literary tradition to “enable it to thrive in the 21st century”.
Skates, speaking in the Senedd, said:
“The report that I am publishing today sets out a series of recommendations. Some of these are for the Welsh Government, others are for the industry and the key delivery organisations.
“Given the significant weight and compelling nature of the evidence received, I am minded to accept the main recommendations and the Welsh Government will now work with the relevant organisations to implement them.”
“Some of these recommended changes are extensive but they are in response to specific needs in a specific area of activity. They are in no way a reflection of the wider good work of the Arts Council or Literature Wales including the excellent delivery of major events and activities linked to our themed years, which will remain unchanged.”
“I am persuaded that these steps are needed to create a support structure for publishing and literature which is more effective and fit for the future.”
One of the main points of the consensus was the Book of the Year Prize, with the review displaying a need for more of a commercial impact. It has now been announced that the administration of the prize could be transferred from Literature Wales to the Welsh Books Council. Additional functions it recommended be passed over include bursaries, literary events, its Writers on Tour funding scheme, and provision for children and young people.
Professor M Wynn Thomas, chairman of the Welsh Books Council, commented:
“I am pleased that the recommendations acknowledge the key role the Books Council has played for over 50 years in supporting and developing the publishing industry in Wales. The proposals complement the Council’s current work and will ensure that publishers, writers and the promotion of reading will remain at the heart of the Council’s mission.”
Though many of these recommendations are yet to confirmed, all of these steps take us closer to enhancing Wales’ profile in publishing on the world stage.