29 April 2009

New Deal for travel writers?

Back in January, the political editor of the New Statesman, Martin Bright, wrote a piece recognising the way that Roosevelt's 'New Deal' in the thirties sponsored not just public infrastructure projects, but arts & culture projects too. He argued that Gordon Brown should be doing the same.

The paragraph that caught my eye was this...

Meanwhile, the Federal Art Project conducted classes attended by 60,000 people a week and produced 234,000 works of art; the Federal Music Project gave 4,400 musical performances a month, with an average monthly attendance of three million people, and the Federal Theatre put on 1,813 plays. The Federal Writers' Project produced guidebooks to the American states and nearly 200 books and pamphlets. It also collated a collection of oral histories including the narratives of the last living slaves. Britain's leading expert on the New Deal, Professor Anthony Badger of Cambridge University, said: "The WPA (Works Progress Administration) was based on the principle that there was no point in putting unemployed writers to work digging roads. They were ridiculed at the time, and there were some ludicrous projects, but there were also some remarkable achievements."

Bright's article has been picked up by numerous intellectuals, media and politicians - including a couple of ministers and my local MP, Lynne Featherstone, who was talking about it yesterday in the Commons - and there is now something of a 'New Deal of the Mind' bandwagon ... and a Facebook group !

The reason I mention it is that freelance travel writers (my colleagues in the BGTW) have faced a double whammy recently with work paying less or drying up completely as the internet muscles in on traditional media readership & ad revenues, and now the recession. 

The New Deal of the Mind is a project they should be watching closely because it could provide some new hope, training and perhaps new direction for many of them.

2 comments:

Salt E C Dog said...

Freelance travel writers are being sqeezed at every turn. We should all act together as one those who have not joined the British Guild of Travel Writers should do so and the Guild itself should act as the freelancers spokesman
Michael J Howorth
Freelance Travel Writer and Author
http://www.bgtw.org/michael-howorth.html
http://superyachtblogger.blogspot.com

David Atkinson said...

I think freelance travel writers have two options in the current climate: 1) Get out and find alternative employment 2) Get skilled up and look for new outlets in new media. I'm covering my bases by doing both.
www.atkinsondavid.co.uk
http://atkinsondavid.blogspot.com