Friday, April 10, 2009

More PEN Facts

The centerpiece of the PEN American Center organization is its Gala, which occurs every year in late April. The funds raised by wealthy attendees-- $766,625 grosa receipts in 2007-- is a major engine keeping the PEN apparatus going. (Tickets are usually in the neighborhood of $1,000 a head.)

The expense to hold the swanky aristocratic affair-- $247,773 in 2007-- is not far off PEN's total giving ($285,150 in '07) and indicates the event's importance.

PEN holds other literary affairs every year-- such as the International Writers Festival, staged at a mind-boggling expense of $536,005. (I've staged literary events for less than $100, promotion included.) PEN promotes its Festival as an "answer to American cultural insularity."

What we really need is an answer to NEW YORK cultural insularity as exemplified by PEN.
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What of PEN's giving?
$111,000 of it consisted of monetary awards to individual writers.
The top three in 2007:
$40,000 to Philip Roth, who's published by both Houghton-Mifflin and Randon House.
$35,000 to Columbia prof Janna Levin, published by Alfred Knopf.
$10,000 to James Carroll, published by Houghton-Mifflin.

By giving grants to authors who should be fully paid by their giant publishers, PEN American Center is in effect subsidizing billion-dollar book conglomerates.

But surely, PEN American Center, which was created to be an activist organization, must fund needy or dissenting American writers also. DO THEY? A quick perusal of the 2007 list indicates the answer might be yes.

The question will be more closely examined in another post. (The best is yet to come.)
www.penpetition.blogspot.com

1 comment:

King said...

A LEGITIMATE PROTEST
I want to stress to readers of this blog that the Petition to PEN is a completely legitimate protest. There is nothing untoward about it. It targets specific actions (or non-actions) of a specific organization-- and asks for modest changes which would benefit ALL writers as well as the organization itself.
The ability to petition PUBLIC organizations like PEN is a fundamental democratic right.