One of the highlight debates of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, “Writing the Future: Being a Writer After the Referendum,” hinged on the question of what the actual results of the independence referendum vote – whether Yes or No – might be for writers in Scotland. The panel brought together writers, publishers, and cultural policy professionals, from both sides of the Yes/No divide.
. . . .
And the participants brought a level of engagement and passion to match the occasion, although by no means working from a simplistic Yes-is-good-for-Scottish-writers premise. All the same, “one thing that always struck me was the amount of respect shown to writers in Ireland … respect built into the way Ireland works,” said journalist and commentator Lesley Riddoch, mentioning, among other things, “the tax concessions, which make it much easier to be a writer or any kind of artist or creative person in Ireland.”
“There’s something else that comes from being an independent country. You get to a stage where you know your native culture and know its worth .. your own culture is your main selling point internationally,” she continued. “In Scotland there’s a two-tier set of values. There’s an official culture… There are two realities in Scotland all the time. There’s the mainstream British culture, which has occupied most of the space… and then there’s Scottish culture, sitting on the margins, in the corners, actually thriving, like a plant that adapts well to being stuck in funny wee corners … Scottish writing has thrived because it’s had to. lt’s been the carrier of different visions of what Scotland has been, could be, might become.”
. . . .
From the No perspective, publisher Hugh Andrew, Managing Director of Birlinn Limited, complained about the “stupendous disinterest” demonstrated so far by the current Scottish government in cultural issues. However, he also linked Scotland’s cultural and literary problems to structural issues in publishing. “There are five gigantic corporations who control 90+ percent of the market,” he noted. “I am the last substantial Scottish-based Scottish-owned publisher in existence.”
Link to the rest at TeleRead