Monday musings on Australian Literature: Stilettos and Sponsors

Has that got your attention? If it has, I’m sorry if you think I’m going to talk about high society fund-raising parties. I’m afraid it’s a bit more mundane than that … but interesting I hope.

The Stilettos

I have in fact written about the Stilettos before, the Scarlet Stiletto Awards to be exact. To recap, they are Sisters in Crime Australia’s annual awards for best short crime and mystery stories by women writers. This year they are offering a record $11,910 in prizes this year. As Carmel Shute, secretary of Sisters in Crime, says

“Crime does pay – at least on the page. And writing is a lot safer than holding up your local service station, especially during a pandemic.”

Fifteen awards are offered:

  • Swinburne University Award, 1st Prize: $1500
  • Simon & Schuster Award, 2nd Prize: $1000
  • Sun Bookshop & Wild Dingo Award, 3rd Prize: $600

  • Affirm Press Award for Best Young Writer (under 19): $500
  • Monash University Award for Best Emerging Writer (19-25): $500
  • Melbourne Athenaeum Library ‘Body in the Library’ Award: $1250 (plus $750 for runner-up)
  • Booktopia Publisher Services Award for Best Environmental Mystery: $750
  • Clan Destine Press Award for Best Cross-genre Story: $750
  • Every Cloud Award for Best Mystery with History Story: $750
  • Kerry Greenwood Award for Best Malice Domestic Story: $750
  • Viliama Grakalic Art and Crime Award: $750
  • Writers Victoria Crime and Punishment Award for the Story with the Most Satisfying Retribution: $660 (Studio Residency, Old Melbourne Gaol)
  • HQ Fiction Award for Best Thriller: $500
  • ScriptWorks Award for a Great Film Idea: $500
  • Liz Navratil Award for Best Story with a Disabled Protagonist Award: $400 

There’s a lot of opportunity here, as you can see, for different sorts of stories – and past winners have included writers I’ve reviewed or mentioned here, like Angela Savage. The monetary amount isn’t huge, but it’s something, and, as Shute says:

Since the awards began 28 years ago, 3896 stories have been entered and 30 winners – including winners of the Shoe and category winners – have gone on to have books published.

The closing date for entering this year’s awards is 31 August, 2021. There is an entry fee of $25 (less for Sisters in Crime members), and stories must be 5000 words or less. More information and the entry form can be found at Sisters in Crime.

The awards will (hopefully) be presented in Melbourne in late November.

The sponsors

From the above list of awards, you’ve probably guessed the inspiration for the second part of this post – the sponsors. Most awards – literary or otherwise – are sponsored. Some, like the Prime Minister’s and various Premier’s literary awards, are funded by governments, but many are offered by individuals and organisations. The Miles Franklin Literary Award, the Barbara Jefferis Award and the Kibble Literary Awards, are all funded by bequests which identified the purpose of the award. Other awards or prizes are funded by a range of people and organisations, including philanthropic people and foundations, and like organisations (such as publishers and bookshops).

But, keeping awards funded is a challenge, and something I have planned to write more broadly on for some time. I will still do that. However, Sisters in Crime provided a good introduction to the subject in their promotion of this year’s award, because they say that only one sponsor pulled their funding “despite these financially fraught times” and “two new supporters” came on.  Excitingly for them, several sponsors not only continued their awards but increased the amount.

Watch for a future Monday Musings on this and related issues – but no promises when!

Meanwhile, any thoughts?

20 thoughts on “Monday musings on Australian Literature: Stilettos and Sponsors

  1. Thanks for the mention, Sue. Well worth noting that the great Care Kennedy won the inaugural two Scarlett Stiletto Awards (the only author to date to win a matching pair) and credits the vote of confidence in her work provided by the Sisters in Crime as instrumental to the development of her writing career. How much richer are we, the reading public, for this!

    • Thanks Angela. I did mention Cate Kennedy in my fist post on these awards, but I didn’t know that about her crediting the vote of confidence in her work as playing such a significant role in her career. That “vote of confidence” is an argument for awards that I don’t think I’ve quite articulated before. Good one.

  2. i woulda thought that people like Kerry Greenwood could up the ante to a cool thou, at least .. In fact, all of the $750 offerers .. OK, so that’s not very appreciative of me; but honestly, you can spend $750 on a plumber visiting !

  3. As for sponsors increasing their donations, you do know the rich are getting richer? I hope that also applies to Kerry Greenwood who deserves her success, and I see has sponsored a prize for her fellows.

    • Ah well, and all the winners in between, too, Lisa. Admittedly Dylan is probably comparatively very well off, but as I responded to MR, we don’t necessarily know what philanthropy people are engaged in. Maybe Dylan already supports a lot of causes?

      Interestingly, people involved in encouraging donating/philanthropy, ask donors not to be anonymous, which would be my natural preference, but to stand up and be counted as an encouragement to others of their demographic. My initial fear was hubris but I see the point!

      • Oh, yes, Peter Singer is adamant about that. He says that being upfront about donating to e.g. Oxfam or making the pledge to donate 1% of their income (as I do, though I donate 1.5%) *normalises* it, and makes other people feel that they should be doing it too.

  4. Losing only one sponsor in the current Covid-related economic challenges is a tremendous achievement. I wonder what the long term effect is going to be on arts sponsorship generally

  5. Crime does pay – Hee hee. Fun. I’ve been reading a few mysteries to celebrate the season over here (summer, obvs, but mysteries are also a wintry delight to my mind as well).

      • Nor with me as I’m obvs contradictory about it LOL and associate them equally with both the hottest summer days and the coldest winter ones…for me, it’s probably more accurately the idea of more leisure time, which used to be built around school holidays when I was a student (Christmas break and summer break as a kid) and, now, is sometimes built around shorter spells, time away from a desk.

        • It’s interesting how our leisure time, and the things that trigger that leisure-time feeling, changes at different times in our lives – student, worker, parent, retired, etc. And with the weather too. A cold rainy day will often feel more like a leisure day to me than a warm sunny one.

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