The National Arts Council of Namibia (NACN) has recently come under fire from poets and writers who have expressed their unhappiness over the way the council treats the book publishing sector.
The literary artists also say that NACN has been serving a select group of artists who are close to power while the majority of Namibian artists who happen to be independent thinkers are excluded.
Omutumwa sought for the response of NACN, and below here is NACN’s verbatim response as provided by NACN’s Administrator Ms Gretta Gaspar:
“Here with a response for your enquiry on the stance of the literature genre.
“The NACN suspended the funding of literature because it did not have the capacity to evaluate the literature submissions. However, the interruption on literature funding was mainly focused on printing and self-publishing, and not so much on workshops, presentations or training activities. Thus, this was not clearly defined and was an oversight on the Council’s part.
“The Council has over the years investigated various methods of working with a partner institution whose business is publishing, to assist with the publishing aspect, which none or very few of the companies were willing to come on board.
“The reason provided was that there was a low reading culture and book purchasing for fictional or creative written work in Namibia and therefore it is seen as risky.
“The last institution the Council engaged with was UNAM Press that said that they had a priority towards publishing academic writing produced at the University.
“However, it was proposed to interrogate working on annual short-term projects aimed at collecting local literature content such as poetry or short stories to result in published anthologies or collections. This resulted in the publication of the first poetry anthology recently released by UNAM Press.
“So yes, there has been some discontent, mainly coming from poets and writers, which the Council is aware of and is working on mitigating in the near future.
“The NACN is currently busy engaging with another process to reactivate support aimed at developing and supporting the growth of local literature. When the process is finalised it will be announced to the public.
“Unfortunately, the council will not fund the printing or self-publishing resulting from literature submissions, without quality controls in place and until such time that the new process is instituted.
“The Arts and Culture COVID-19 Relief Fund remains open to those that want to apply and welcome applications in the literature category, except those seeking financial support to print or self-publish.”
IN THE PHOTO: Several local books in the vernacular by writers Angula T. Ndjembo and SN Paulus. (Photo, courtesy of Radical Books)