STA, 2 April 219 - Aksinja Kermauner formally handed her resignation as the president of the Slovenian Writers' Association (Društvo slovenskih pisateljev – DSP) on Tuesday in protest at the state's attitude to the association and severe underfunding.
"The state has in fact brought an esteemed organisation such as the DSP to its knees," Kermauner said, adding that the association did not have enough funds to pay the staff and to function normally.
She said that the association should have found a crisis manager last summer as the current crisis begin to show, but the membership thought they would be up to the situation.
After four DSP assistants offered their resignation on Monday because the association was unable to pay them for their work, she said the DSP realised the dire situation it had found itself in.
"The state should realise this is an association of writers rather than of economists. The state should take care of our basic survival," Kermauner told the STA.
She said that members of the DSP bodies had been performing their duties as an honour and did not pay themselves out attendance fee because of the financial situation.
Data presented on the Odmevi news show on TV Slovenija last night indicates that the DSP received about EUR 230,000 a year on average from the Book Agency between 2014 and 2017, and EUR 212,800 last year.
The association has an annual budget of about half a million euro, 60% of which it gets from the state, while it has to secure the rest itself through donations, membership fees, rent and other sources.
However, Kermauner said that the figures did not say what the association had done with the funds, listing events such as the Vilenica International Literary Festival, Slovenian Book Days, and projects like the Trubar Fund, which supports publication of literary translations, and the journal Litterae Slovenicae.
Kermauner said that the association would need at least twice as much funding as it gets to be able to finance all of its projects and cover its own costs.
"The state has a stepmotherly attitude to what is a 150-year-old association," she said, noting that its premises were the hub of Slovenia's independence movement and made the history of the Slovenian nation.
She said that the association had lost its significance also because of underfunding: "We create a better world with a pen too. Culture leads the nation ahead, without culture the nation dies."
Asked about poor inter-personal relationships at the association, she said: "When there's a lot of money, the relationships are great, when it gets tough, everyone will look at where's something ... Where the crisis strikes, the relationships get strained. But this wasn't why I resigned."
Kermauner will serve as outgoing president until the DSP assembly elects her successor; the vote is planned for the second half of May.
Kermauner, a youth fiction author, poet and pedagogue, was appointed to head the DSP in September 2018, succeeding Ivo Svetina, who had resigned in June citing personal reasons.