This is a blog, this is the Islet blog. Islet is the online site for emerging writers and visual artists and it exists through Island Magazine, our 'mainland,' if you like. It is the State Government of Tasmania that we are talking about - and their decision to remove every cent of funding to Island Magazine - and thus Islet.
Island has existed for 32 years in various guises and through various strengths. It has published early work of some of Australia's best known and respected writers and supported Tasmanian arts and letters in a profound way over the last three decades - and Arts Tasmania should be there to ensure that it can continue to do this.
Literary Journals play a hugely important role - not just in providing stimulating and challenging and exciting works for the reader - but also as a gateway drug for new writers.
Sarah Kanowski is the editor of Island. She has been in the role for 8 months and the first edition she edited from scratch has been the first edition of Island to have sold out in its current incarnation (I just went to check the accuracy of that statement and I tell a lie, there are still four copies of the print run of the 125 Mona edition left in the office.
Arts Tasmania, the peak arts body in the state, in their letter stating why they had made this funding decision, questioned why they would fund a Tasmanian magazine when Tasmanians can go online and read the New Yorker. This is, to put it mildly, an embarrassing statement from a body that purports to encourage Tasmanian arts.
The Premier, Lara Giddings, said in the Mercury newspaper that "the cutting of funding for Island Magazine, a quarterly magazine featuring contemporary writing, was based on a "trend" towards online rather than hard-copy publications for literature."
Island has just launched their new website and published their first digital editions (available through Booki.sh - here.)
What can you do?
Write to Katherine Hough, the head of Arts Tasmania, who signed the letter telling us to go offshore for our literary requirements, write to the Premier, Lara Giddings. It is unlikely that they will reverse their funding decision but oh! so important that we let them know how much government support for the arts, both tangible and intangible is crucial for a healthy and inspired society.
You can subscribe to Island (issue 126 has just gone to the printers - and the magazine is looking forward, not lamenting backwards).
You can write to the Mercury, or your local newspaper and your local politician, wherever you are. It's not too late - our voices must continue to be heard.
'Like' the Island Magazine: The Future Facebook page.
- and talk about this situation - tell your friends, tell your family, tell your favourite primary school teacher.
And, - keep reading!