The West Midlands Writers’ Guild has joined library staff, visitors and campaigners in condemning planned cuts to the new Library of Birmingham, which opened last year.
The plans, announced by Birmingham City Council last week, would mean the loss of around 100 staff, and opening hours cut from 73 to 40 hours a week.
"In its short time, the Library of Birmingham has become a huge focus for every kind of artistic, educational and media work that goes on in this exciting and vibrant city,” said Writers' Guild West Midlands regional representative William Gallagher. “You can't make a building be important but when it is, when it has become vital, you can easily throw all of that away.
"A Library of Birmingham that is staffed, open and used to the potential we were promised and that we have seen in action is a cause for civic, artistic and regional pride. A library that is closed is a defeat.
"That we have to fight for the library after only a year is an excoriating embarrassment for Birmingham. But that we will fight, that the writers and artists and public of our city are fighting for the library, is testament to what this building and its staff mean to us."
The £188-million library is Europe’s largest and the Labour-controlled Birmingham Council said it had no choice but to press ahead with plans in the light of Government cuts, which have seen the number of libraries in the UK fall by 7.5% since 2010.
“As the largest and most visited public library in Europe the Library of Birmingham is not only of regional importance but of national and international importance too. It should be treated as such,” said Writers’ Guild Deputy Chair and Birmingham resident Tim Stimpson.
“At a time when Manchester has just been awarded £78 million by central Government for a new ‘flexible art space’ it is not acceptable that Birmingham’s cultural sector has been left to fend for itself yet again.
“The West Midlands Writers’ Guild calls on the region’s citizens, its institutions and interest groups to come together to demand that the Library of Birmingham is given the financial support it requires.”
Writers’ Guild member Mike Leigh’s much-anticipated Mr. Turner receives a gala screening at the 58th BFI London Film Festival, which runs from 8-19 October 2014.
The portrait of the artist JMW Turner is played by Timothy Spall, who won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year for the role. The film focuses on the last 25 years of Turner’s life when his painting moved towards the Impressionist style for which he became remembered. It also probes the colourful life of a character who famously strapped himself to the mast of a ship so he could paint a snow storm.
Writer/director Mike Leigh has described Turner as "a great artist: a radical, revolutionary painter… I felt there was scope for a film examining the tension between this very mortal, flawed individual, and the epic work, the spiritual way he had of distilling the world."
The UK release date is set for 31 October 2014.
The BFI London Film Festival will bring 248 films to 17 venues across the capital over 12 days. It will feature screenings on themes including love, family, treasures, cult and thrill; and competitions, including the Best Film Award and First Feature Competition.
Other Writers’ Guild members whose work is being shown at the Festival include Gregory Burke ('71), Joe Fisher (Electricity), Leslie Stewart (Moomins on the Riviera) and Jack Thorne (War Book).
The full programme, including bookings, can be viewed here.
In the UK a script fee of at least £300 per minute (£3,000+ for a 10-minute script) should be negotiated. This is the conclusion of Guild officers, writers and agents following a recent project with Guild animation writers to rewrite the Guild guidelines on animation.
Part of the research included surveying UK animation writers about the fees they earned for writing both in the UK and internationally.
Below is a snapshot of the fees paid to animation writers for a 10/11-minute script.
Countries Range (£s)
SE Asia: 800-2,250
The survey results above indicate that there is a huge variation in the fees paid to writers nationally and internationally. This can be attributed in part to the lack of collective agreements that set out minimum terms. In the absence of minima, aim for the maxima!
In the UK if a writer is contracted to write an episode, this will generally be on a buyout contract. This means the writer sells all their rights to their work with no rights to royalty or residuals payments, so the script fee is the only money the writer will earn and should be negotiated at £300+ per minute.
Colin Shaw wrote many radio plays and features, and a stage play for children. But his impact on writers’ lives was bigger than that, because from 1953-1977 he worked at the BBC, starting as a radio drama producer and going on to be Assistant Head of Programmes, North Region, and Head of Programme Planning Group, BBC Television. He ended his time at the BBC as Chief Secretary to the Board of Governors.
From 1977-83 he was Director of Television for the Independent Broadcasting Authority. From 1983-87 he was Director, Programme Planning for ITV Companies' Association. He was Founding Director of the Broadcasting Standards Council from 1988-96.
And even when he retired from such elevated positions, he carried on his work on behalf of writers as one of the chief negotiators with the BBC for the Society of Authors, co-operating closely with the Writers’ Guild, of which he was also a member.
Colin Shaw was also a Governor of the English-Speaking Union, 1977-83; a Member of the Arts Council of Great Britain, 1977-80; and in 1987 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Television Society.
Writers' Guild has vacancies for Deputy Chairs and regional representatives
Dear Guild member
Following last month’s Writers’ Guild Annual General Meeting, four vacancies remain for Officers and Executive Council members. We need to find two deputy Chairs, plus regional representatives for the East Midlands and Greater Manchester and the surrounding area.
To be eligible, you need to have been a Full Member of the Guild for at least two years continuously prior to the date on which nominations close, or else you need to be a Life Member. You also need a proposer and seconder, who must be Full Members of the Guild in good standing.
Officer vacancies will serve for a one-year term. Those elected to the other EC vacancies will serve for a three-year term.
Members of the Executive Council attend about six meetings per year at which they formulate Guild policy and take decisions about collective agreements, membership and financial matters, and other issues of importance to working writers. Members attending EC meetings can claim expenses for their travel, meals, and, if necessary, overnight accommodation.
If you are interested please click here for further details and a downloadable nomination form. Fill in the details and return the form as soon as possible to: General Secretary, Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, First Floor, 134 Tooley Street, London SE1 2TU. You can also apply by email to the address below.
7 August 2014