Open Letter re: Manitoba Book Awards Cuts
We were disappointed to hear of the pending cuts to the prizes provided by the provincial government for three Manitoba Book Awards - the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction/Prix Alexander-Kennedy-Isbister pour les études et essais, the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction, and le Prix littéraire Rue-Deschambault – administered by the Manitoba Writers Guild and the Association of Manitoba Book Publishers. We have written the following open letter in support of their request to have this decision reversed.
Open Letter to the Province of Manitoba and the Department of Culture, Heritage and Tourism
August 13, 2013
To: Premier Greg Selinger
The Hon. Flor Marcelino, Minister of Culture, Heritage & Tourism
Ms. Cindy Stevens, Deputy Minister CH&T
Ms. Veronica Dyck, Assistant Deputy Minister CH&T
Mr. Sam Baardman, Director of Arts Branch
Mr. Victor Enns, Publishing Consultant, Arts Branch
On behalf of The Writers’ Collective of Manitoba, we write to express our disappointment that the Province will no longer be supporting the three provincial book prizes with cash awards for the winning writers, and to lend our support to the Manitoba Writers’ Guild (MWG) and the Association of Manitoba Book Publishers (AMBP).
The three awards – the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction/Prix Alexander-Kennedy-Isbister pour les études et essais, the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction, and le Prix littéraire Rue-Deschambault – honour local writers and increase public awareness of the quality and diversity of Manitoba books.
As an organization that represents and serves emerging writers in Manitoba, we know how important a thriving, local literary community is. Our members look to Manitoba writers as examples for how to bring their unique stories to the page and achieve success in the publishing world.
Provincial awards such as these provide a milestone for new and emerging writers to aspire to as they seek publishing opportunities at home and abroad. As the MWG and AMBP have stated, the cash prizes validate the important role Manitoba writers play in expressing the province’s unique culture, and provide much-needed resources to work on new material.
We join with the MWG and AMBP in asking the Province to reconsider its decision and continue to provide cash prizes for writers. At a total annual cost of $8,750 these prizes represent a small investment for the Province, but a significant support to the winning writers. We would remind the Province that creative industries play a significant role in our provincial economy and identity and that writers are an integral part of our creative industry.
Thank you for your consideration.
The Writers’ Collective of Manitoba
Hilary Friesen, President
Eve Dutton, Vice President
Kimberly Sperling, Secretary
Thembani Mdluli, Director
Anita Daher, Program CoordinatorHilary Friesen