Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for January 23rd, 2008

Speaking Out for Arcadia

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 23rd January, 2008

The writer and columnist Joan Smith today delivered a letter from 600 of us writers and what the publishers described as ‘luminaries in the Arts’ asking the Arts Council to reconsider its decision to slash future funding to the independent publishing house Arcadia by a quarter. When the rosta includes such diverse characters as Tariq Ali, Antonia Fraser, Nobel laureate Doris Lessing, Joanna Lumley, Edwina Currie and me, one may begin to understand both the breadth and the depth of the outrage at the proposed cutbacks. Arcadia has been named by the Sunday Times as Small Publisher of the Year, and in 2007 one of its books, The Book of Chameleons, by the Angolan writer José Eduardo Agualusa, won the prestigious Independent Foreign Fiction award.

Indeed, under the spirited leadership of its young American director, Gary Pulsifer, Arcadia has brought to the British reading public a wide range of books in translation, in particular, which have enriched our literary environment. Books from the Nordic countries have been especially promoted, as well as several novelists from developing countries. The government says it wants to champion excellence in the Arts, so can the Arts Council please do its bit and reprieve Arcadia from the planned cuts? The sums involved are tiny in terms of the Arts Council budget, but would have a serious effect on Arcadia’s ability to build on what it has already achieved.  

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