Recognising authors as professionals; HELA propose stipend

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Writers should get a reasonable stipend to be able to work on their literary projects full-time, the Hub for Excellence in the Literary Arts (HELA) said in its budget proposals. In its proposals, the organisation aims to address the needs and challenges faced by the literary sector.

Proposals include incentives for bookshops, a stipend for writers, fiscal incentives for the production of literary books, as well as incentives related to cultural journalism and incentives to transform libraries into cultural centres.

The organisation called for more funds to be allocated and the development of cultural programmes. HELA called for funds to improve access to Floriana central library aimed at making it more attractive. Transforming Floriana central library into a cultural centre could include having different spaces such as a theatre, a research space, a cafeteria, among others.

Developing cultural programmes could strengthen the relationship between people and books, especially by attracting the younger generations. The proposal is in line with HELA’s aims of nurturing and supporting the Maltese language in its written and published form.

Paying authors a stipend shows proper recognition of their skills, experience and status, allowing them to maintain their career. HELA explained that authors could submit a one year work plan, a contract placing obligations on the author and a stipend.

Read the proposals below:

1. Bookshops
a) capital assistance for the buying/renting of places adequate for the said activity
b) capital assistance for online shops registered in Malta which sell and promote Maltese books
c) capital assistance for enterprises founded with the aim of selling books related to a specialised field (books related to a certain research field or a specialised literary genre)
d) government-owned central places used exclusively for the selling of books
e) incentives/fiscal exemptions which favour the promotion and sale of Maltese books
(those published and made in Malta)
f) specialised training for new entrepreneurs in the sector

2. Writers’ stipend
a) The stipend will recognise the act of writing as a profession
b) Writers submit a work plan covering a one-year period
c) The contract and the stipend can be renewed for a maximum period of 3 years
d) The contract binds writers to a number of obligations which could include the preparation, research and finalisation of manuscripts for publication, as well as participation in literary events with a formative and/or promotional aim.

3. Fiscal incentives for the production of literary books
a) Incentives/fiscal exemptions for the production of local literary books (not on all
printed books and products) which include the paper used, proofreading, editing
and illustration services, and the printing – the steps and resources needed, all
included in the manufacturing of the book.

4. Incentives related to cultural journalism
a) Whoever writes/translates cultural articles receive fair remuneration b) Local news agencies be given incentives to carry more articles about culture
c) Funds be provided for the publication of specialised journals focusing on prose and poetry and their criticism
d) The best contributions in the field of cultural journalism, more specifically in the reviewing of literary work, be acknowledged with an award
e) Funds be allocated for prospective and established journalists to be trained in the writing of book reviews

5. Improved access to libraries as cultural spaces.
a) Funds be provided for libraries to become cultural spaces that provide more local books and an excellent cultural programme throughout the year.
b) Funds be given for structural changes in the central library in Floriana for it to become more attractive and accessible, in order to attract both children and adults. Different European and foreign libraries should be used as examples, as some of these offer different spaces, such as theatre, research spaces, quiet reading spaces, a cafeteria and the rest. The library should become a physical point of reference, somewhere where one wants to visit and spend his/her time, as it is welcoming, even structurally. c) Programmes be developed through which the relationship between people and book can be strengthened from an early age, especially in libraries.
d) More funds be allocated for events which empower writing skills