More rigorous standards in publishing needed – HELA

Giola Cassar

The Maltese literary sector is full of opportunities for growth and development, both locally and internationally. Over the last few years, there have been considerable progress in this sector, thanks to new structures and funds that led to qualitative and professional leaps which were not possible before. This was the starting point for the first public discussion organised by the HELA Foundation – The Hub for Excellence in the Literary Arts.

HELA is a platform which aims to foster professional solidarity amongst writers, translators, publishers and editors so as to strengthen the literary sector. In the coming months, the Foundation will be holding a series of meetings, training courses and events which address some of the gaps in the sector.

In her opening presentation, writer Clare Azzopardi said that over the past ten years, the increase in funds for writers and translators has had a positive impact on the number of local publications. However, she also noted that there are still vital lacunae in the sector. These include professional associations, editors and literary agents, as well as statistics on the buying and selling of books in Malta.

In the course of the discussion, it was agreed that there was a critical need for clear and official figures on the real monetary value of the writing profession and publishing industry, as these figures do not yet exist. There was also consensus that HELA could promote more rigorous standards in publishing which would, in turn, guarantee better quality books and literary products.

HELA is a platform partially financed by the Arts Council Malta. You may visit HELA’s Facebook page or their website for more information.