It would be a great tragedy if Dedalus lost their funding, as we need publishers of this kind more than ever. When Dedalus was formed, 27 years ago, there was no shortage of enlightened publishers that were willing to nuture and develop talented authors, regardless of the immediate financial return.
Sadly, things are very different in today's risk-averse publishing world. It isn't even the obscure, literary novelists who will suffer, but also mainstream writers who have to write several books before they reach their breakthrough novel. Ian Rankin was with Orion for ten years before he started to become a "name".
With a few exceptions, high culture isn't commercial. Nobody expects Radio Three or the Royal Opera House to produce a healthy net profit, but when it comes to the book world there seems to be a blind spot. That's probably because publishers used to be able to subsidise uncommercial books with the revenues from the latest Tom Clancy or Dick Francis. The Arts Council should to recognise that the publishing landscape has changed considerably and that public subsidy is essential for our literary culture.
Gary Pulsifer of Arcadia neatly summed-up the importance of Dedalus:
"Dedalus operates on a shoe-string with one full-time member of staff, yet produces classics of European and world literature, as well as discovering new works of contemporary writing, some of which are destined to be classics of the future. Their outlook is serious yet pleasurable and in this age of throw-away writing, they educate and remind us that good books are a part of what drives a civilised society."
I've copied an email that Dedalus sent to its supporters on Monday. If you want to add your voice to the campaign to restore Arts Council funding, there is an email address at the bottom:
Dear Friend of Dedalus,
Re letter of support
We are in negotiations with Arts Council England (ACE) about reinstatement as a Regular Funded Organisation. A recommendation will be made by Nick McDowell, Director of Literature on 24 May and The Regional Council of ACE will consider this recommendation and our response and take a decision on 29 June 2010. ACE has said it will, as part of this process, consider third party letters of support. As ACE has specifically asked for these testimonials it is clear that they consider them highly relevant and that they might make it easier for ACE to reinstate Dedalus.
We hope that you will consider providing Dedalus with such a letter and will write to or email Nick McDowell. His address is:
Nick McDowell, Director of Literature ACE 2,Pear Tree Court, London, EC1R 0DS email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please send us a copy of your letter or email so we can include them in our final submission to The Regional Council.