This morning the provincial government announced their new Status of the Artist legislation in a press conference at the Arts & Culture Centre. I was pleased to be asked to give a reading at the event. To be offered a podium and a microphone is to be given a position of privilege. So I used that privilege to say a few words before my reading. Here they are:
"I grew up in a home with very few books. My parents are not big readers and back when I was a kid there wasn’t a lot of money for extras. But my town had a great library so there was always a tower of paperbacks on the floor by my bed. Without those books, I would never have discovered the joy of reading. And without the vibrant cultural institutions in this province, I would never have become a writer. The Writers' Alliance, ArtsNL, the Arts & Letters Awards, the classes at MUN and their writers-in-residence - these were the crucial resources that made my career possible.
As writers, we have been very concerned about the impact of austerity, not just on our livelihoods but on the options available for tomorrow’s writers and artists. I hope that in enacting this Status of the Artist legislation the government is signalling a renewed commitment to the arts. We stand, just steps away from a public library, my public library, and I hope this too has meaning, that it indicates a commitment to literacy and the government-funded resources that make literacy possible."