What is CALD writing?

Culturally and linguistically diverse writing (CALD) in Australia is a literature in crisis with many of its writers feeling excluded from mainstream platforms, festivals, publications. This includes the work of coloured writers, queer writers, minority writers, Indigenous writers, refugee writers.

What can be done?

Mascara is collating qualitative data for the purpose of evaluating discrepancies between creative arts policy and cultural practice in Australia with regard to peak bodies, institutions as well as individual publishers and performance platforms.  The goal of this initial study is to establish the grounds and framework for further research to look at specific ways of closing the gap between the existing general policy and a range of sustainable solutions that we hope will foster dialogue, extend access and strengthen the representation of diverse writing in Australia.

Phase 1: 2014-2016

1. We are especially interested in collating writers’ psychological responses (anonymous or otherwise) to discrimination or exclusion from publishing or performance platforms. How it may have affected self-esteem, confidence, artistic practice, psychological well-being, belief in their work, networks, a sense of belonging, community participation, career status, family commitments, financial status and the like. We are interested in how the effects of exclusion or not-belonging might be analysed within  psychological frameworks.

2. We plan to collate qualitative data for cultural diversity from the organizers of major Australian prizes, also from literary publications and festivals.  This will take the form of a survey exploring a sense of current representations, acquaintance with terminology, diversity monitoring, selection of judges criteria and future directions. We hope this study will invite dialogue, and frame the basis of future planning which will inform, expand and diversify both participation and audiences. Participants in our research include organisations such as Australian Poetry, the Vice Chancellor’s Poetry Prize, WILAA (Women in Literary Arts Australia), and The Australian Centre.

3. Our role is to also intercept cultural narratives that marginalise, absent, domesticate or tokenise our subjectivity. By mapping and marking our absence and our resistance we are archiving ourselves as active participants in Australian literary culture.

Cultural Weekly   article by Robert Wood on the need for strategic initiatives and navigating structural racism

Peril article by Lian Low, editor of Peril Magazine

artsHub   article by Richard Watts outlines the Senate Inquiry into Arts Funding and effects on the CALD sector

Sydney Review of Books  article by Michelle Cahill ‘Who is Lobbying For Migrant Writers?’

Record of Public Forums/Discussions

July 23 2014 Australian Poetry ConVo
Friday 21st August 2015 at The Wheeler Centre’s Workshop Space Melbourne Writers’ Festival 2015
4 November 2015 Senate Inquiry into Arts Funding Parramatta Hearing
23 November 2015 Literary Roundtable at the Wheeler Centre attended by Lia Incognita, David Ryding, Mridula Chakraborty, Lian Low, Eleanor Jackson, Kent MacCarter and Jill Eddington
2 December 2015 Report of the Senate Inquiry into Arts Funding at 2.117, 3.63-3.67, 5.40

Research Assistant: Bronwyn Lang
Research Design: Michelle Cahill

Bronwyn Lang is a PhD candidate at the University of Wollongong and the recipient of an Endeavour Australia Asia Award. Her poetry and reviews have appeared in literary journals.

Michelle Cahill  is the recipient of a Literature Board Professional Editorial Development Grant, mentored at Kingston University Press, London and a Developing Writer’s Grant. She is a DCA candidate at the University of Wollongong and has won several awards and literary prizes.