NEWS: Cuts In Funding To O’Brien Press, Could Affect Future Graphic Novel Publishing

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There Arts Council funding for O’Brien Press has been cut by 84% from €63,000 in 2014 to €10,000 in 2015. How is this an Irish comic book issue, you say? Well ODB have been publishing graphic novels since 2009.

Dave Hendrick, who’s book Granuaile Queen of Storms (cover above) is being published by O’Brien press in February, had this to say:

These cuts will have an impact across their entire business but especially across non-traditional areas such as graphic novels. Publishing is an expensive business with tiny margins meaning any decision has to have commercial merit, it’s support from The Arts Council that allows publishers like O’Briens experiment with new authors, illustrators and formats. The proposed cut in funding by over 80% will almost certainly reduce their capacity to take risks in 2015. This is something that effects us all and if we have the capacity to highlight it to the council, the department and the public then we certainly should.

O’Brien Press are asking people to make their voices heard and believe they can reverse the decision:

It is noteworthy that most publishers awarded under the Title by Title Scheme for 2015 have received increased funding on 2014 levels.. We believe that our current funding situation can be reversed – indeed, that our position could be better than it was before this cut – and we have made our position and expectations clear at the highest levels of the Arts Council. But it would be most helpful if authors, illustrators and other figures connected with the literature sector communicate to the Arts Council the possible negative outcomes of such a devastating cut in funding to the country’s leading independent publisher.

They had this in particular to say about Graphic Novels:

Graphic novels, both for children and adults, are recognised worldwide as an important art form and as valuable tools for engaging readers and developing literacy skills. Combining creative writing and the visual arts, O’Brien Press launched a graphic novel programme in 2009 with the publication of Gerry Hunt’s landmark Blood Upon the Rose, following it up with a range of titles for adults and children. Yet this area of publishing has yet to be given due recognition by the Arts Council.
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They have asked people to strongly signal support for O’Brien Press and Brandon Fiction to the following Arts Council personnel:

Sarah Bannan, Head of Literature, sarah.bannan@artscouncil.ie
Stephanie O’Callaghan, Arts Director, stephanie.ocallaghan@artscouncil.ie
Orlaith MacBride, Director, bernie.oleary@artscouncil.ie
Sheila Pratschke, Chair, bernie.oleary@artscouncil.ie

There are also few ways to contact the Arts Council on Social Media:

https://twitter.com/artscouncil_ie
https://www.facebook.com/artscouncilireland

I think the Irish comics community should make their voices heard on this issue. (Thanks to Dave Hendrick for highlighting it to me).