With predictions that Queensland would become a cultural wasteland following the Government’s decision to cut funding for the Queensland Literary Awards, I’m relieved that organisers are confident they will go ahead regardless, as reported by the ABC yesterday (Qld Literary awards to go ahead, organisers say).
This actually justifies the Government’s decision to cut funding, because it is a basic principle of public policy that Government funding should encourage additional activity or behavioural change that wouldn’t otherwise have occurred. Recently economists have adopted the clumsy, ugly word “additionality” to describe this principle.
One of the organisers of the awards basically admits Government funding is unnecessary, so full credit to her for her honesty:
Ms Kneen says the publicity the September event attracts is more valuable than prize money.
“[Authors] do normally rely on prizes to kind just to give them that money to continue writing, but on the other hand they didn’t do it for the money in the first place,” she said.
“The recognition is the most important thing, and I know that writers getting awards – it just makes sure that people are aware of their work and the quality of their work.”
The scrapping of the Queensland Literary Awards has proven itself to be a valuable public policy experiment. Governments should identify a number of other prizes and grants to run similar experiments on – cutting funding and waiting to see if corporates or NGOs meet the shortfall.