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2015 PEN Melbourne AGM: Seeking endorsement of a revised working of Statement of Purposes

November 10, 2015 IN WIP
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2015 PEN Melbourne AGM:
Endorsement of a revised working of Statement of Purposes

At the forthcoming PEN Melbourne Annual General Meeting (AGM) the Committee will be seeking endorsement of a revised wording of the Statement of Purposes in the Rules governing our Association. The change seeks to provide a clearer articulation of or purposes and is being sought as a precursor to our applying for charitable status so that we can receive grants and tax deductible donations.

The current purpose states that the purposes of the association are:

To adhere to, strengthen and act in accordance with the PEN International Charter which states:

1. Literature knows no frontiers and must remain common currency among people in spite of political or international upheavals.

2. In all circumstances, and particularly in time of war, works of art, the patrimony of humanity at large, should be left untouched by national or political passion.

3. Members of PEN should at all times use what influence they have in favour of good understanding and mutual respect between nations; they pledge themselves to do their utmost to dispel race, class and national hatreds, and to champion the ideal of one humanity living in peace in one world.

4. PEN stands for the principle of unhampered transmission of thought within each nation and between all nations, and members pledge themselves to oppose any form of suppression of freedom of expression in the country and community to which they belong, as well as throughout the world wherever this is possible.

PEN declares for a free press and opposes arbitrary censorship in time of peace. It believes that the necessary advance of the world towards a more highly organised political and economic order renders a free criticism of governments, administrations and institutions imperative. And since freedom implies voluntary restraint, members pledge themselves to oppose such evils of a free press as mendacious publication, deliberate falsehood and distortion of facts for political and personal ends.

What is being proposed at the 2015 Annual General Meeting?

The following is what is being proposed for 2015 AGM:

The purposes of the Association are to promote literature by defending the freedom to write, stimulating interest in and access to the written word and fostering a vital and diverse literary community in Australia that is engaged with, and respected by, the literary community and readers around the world. We undertake that work by, without limitation:

a) Supporting the publication of creative and non-fiction works
b) Supporting campaigns, events, readings and discussions related to the promotion of language and literature and the promotion and protection of freedom of expression
c) Supporting the promotion of language and literature within and between cultural groups and
d) Supporting the professional development of writers.

Click here to access PEN Melbourne’s 2014 AGM minutes, as only a few paper copies will be available at the forthcoming AGM.

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People say that (writers) are pretty powerless: we don’t have an army, we don’t have a bureaucracy. But if that were true, then why would writers be arrested?... Because the spoken word is powerful.

— John Ralston Saul on the work of PEN International