Disappointing news this week from the Children's Book Council of Australia, which has announced that its 2010 biennial national conference - the only large-scale event on children's literature in Australia - is to be cancelled 'following advice re the current economic climate.'
Rotating every two years around Australia's six states, the CBCA conference normally attracts up to 1000 teachers, librarians, academics, publishers, authors and illustrators to talk exclusively about children's books for a few days. The 2008 event in Melbourne attracted a healthy international contingent, including Bloomsbury UK's Sarah Odedina.
I dare say the conference circuit generally is suffering, but given the CBCA conference relies heavily on sponsorship from book publishers to help cover its costs, we can only assume that publishers are shying away from the levels of support they have given the event in previous years.
In a letter sent out yesterday, the CBCA says 'we are taking action now to avoid the risk of a great financial burden to the CBCA ... This has been a very difficult and painful decision; however we feel that in such extraordinary times, we have no alternative.'
Given the importance of children's books in creating the readers of the future, it's a great shame. The 2012 conference is due to take place in Adelaide.