Dr Stuart Glover has recently been appointed Government Relations Manager at the Australian Publishers Association – one of the four partner organisations in Books Create Australia. This role will see him advocate for issues concerning most creative people – copyright, fair pay, creative policy and funding matters and so far he has contributed to or written a number of submissions to government on behalf of the Australian Publishers Association, which you can read here.
Read the short Q&A below to learn more about Dr Glover’s long background in literature, creative culture and policy making, and the key conversations he’d like to have with our political leaders.
Did you start your career in stockbroking? What made you jump ship from the land of money?
I was one of the last of the trading floor chalkies, a now vanished job, where you ran around elevated blackboards to chalk up the bids of the brokers yelling from below: it was both exciting and dreadful. Maybe I should have stuck with it: it would have been fascinating to watch the transformation of global finance at close hand, but I was already into books in a big way.
You’ve been involved in the literature world for a while now. What have been the highlights for you?
Like most people, reading is at the centre of my literary experience. I got involved with literary policy, festivals, research, and editing in the belief that these other tasks would amplify the underlying pleasure of reading. Re-inventing the Brisbane Writers Festival in the mid-1990s as part of the cultural re-jigging of Queensland was exciting, as was the campaign to keep the Queensland literary awards alive in 2012, but working with higher degree students on their novels and memoirs done for their Masters and PhDs has probably been the most rewarding thing I have done.
Why were you keen to apply for the role with the APA? Was there something you were particularly keen on tackling?
Most of my work and research has been about the relationship between the state (or governments) and literature. Governments engage with literature (or employ it) because, in the end, they need books and writing to create modern citizens: people who can read, write, think with language, understand ideas and values, and imagine something about the lives of others. Books are probably the best technology we have for making people functional for the modern world. That doesn’t necessarily mean reading Shakespeare or high critical theory: it means ensuring basic literacy and that people understand what a narrative is, what characters (or people) are, and what ideas, arguments and feelings are.
My job at APA is to remind governments about why publishers, books, reading, writing, and libraries are good things: how they enrich lives, create jobs, help the exchange of ideas, and just give us pleasure.
What advocacy work is high on your priorities list as you settle into your role?
There are perennial issues like making sure that copyright works well enough that writers can build careers and publishers can build a business, but then there are acute current issues like the 44% cut that has befallen Australia Council literary funding over the past few years. And then there are bigger ideas to chase: how do we make sure writing and reading are something that can empower everyone? What does an inclusive writing and reading culture–from authors to agents, to publishers, to libraries, to readers, to the books we read–actually look like?
Who are you looking forward to collaborating with in this role?
My role at the APA is to connect publishers to interests outside our own silo: not just to government and funding bodies, but to authors, the GLAM sector, the media, critics’ circles, libraries, and international associations. Luckily advocating for books means almost always bringing the good news about one of our most important ‘technologies’, forms of social knowledge, and sources of entertainment.
What challenges do you anticipate?
Governments and publishers sometimes forget how entwined their realms are and instead assume that they shouldn’t have much to do with each other. In reality, many of the basic cultural and social policy instruments we have were invented to regulate or use writing to transform people and the world: public schooling, copyright, censorship regimes, and libraries for a start. I am looking for a language to bring publishers and government to the same table. Small government investments in publishing, books and reading can pay big social and economic dividends.
If you have a question for Dr Stuart Glover on policy for Australian literature or the APA’s advocacy program, please be in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org