2 Jan 2023

Government to discuss establishment of book commission

7:08 am on 2 January 2023

file image. Photo: 123RF

Organisations involved in the New Zealand book sector are set to meet with government agencies to discuss the establishment of a book commission.

Coalition for Books chairperson Melanie Laville-Moore said the organisation began in 2019 after there was recognition that books needed to be more visible.

"Whether it be through reviews, shelf space, or whatever, it was time to collaborate and pool resources. The discussion now is, how do we go about having an organisation that is well-funded and well-researched to speak on behalf of the whole," Laville-Moore said.

The book sector had amazing potential but was a small and increasingly fragile ecosystem, Laville-Moore said.

"Books in Aotearoa New Zealand, we see them having equal cultural value to something like music and screen, but we have no champion, no single voice.

"At the moment, if you are working within the book sector, you might have five or six government agencies you need to interact with to do business."

By contrast, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage manages the New Zealand Music Commission's relationship with the Crown.

The Film Commission received more than $38 million in Crown funding in the last financial year and is itself a government agency.

Laville-Moore said the music and film commissions had done a great job for their industries and it was hoped the talks at the beginning of this year, between the book sector and government, could lead to something similar for the book sector.

"We all recognise what a incredible job they [the commissions] have done in lifting the value, both real and perceived, of film and music in Aotearoa New Zealand and it's made a huge difference.

"We look at that and think, wow, what if we could do the same?"

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