During 2005 and 2006 Next Page will embark on a number of new projects including Arabooks, Wider Europe, Central Asia and New Geographies. Additionally, the Foundation will expand its commitments building upon previous initiatives to support publishing and translation of the Roma language (via VORBA) and to promote intellectual, cultural and literary exchange throughout Eastern Europe through the East Translates East project.
1. ARABOOKS initiative
The dimension of human development has surfaced again in recent years as the cornerstone of the future of Arab societies. With previous years, and in fact decades, focusing on catching up in terms of economics, the Arab world today is seen as being richer than it is developed. Apart from freedom deficits and obstacles to the empowerment of women, access to information and acquiring knowledge are considered to be of crucial importance. So far, gaining access to the Internet and achieving literacy in the electronic domain have been identified as strategic tools to broaden access to information and enable young people to acquire individual knowledge. The question of how to improve the quality of education has been dealt with in ways that postulate greater individual responsibilities, encourage creativity and an opening up towards the outside world. In this respect, translating into Arabic has come to reflect the degree of the Arab world’s intellectual and cultural relations with the outside world. In a broader perspective, this makes the publishing sector an important vehicle towards establishing knowledge societies.
The project will be comprised of 4 parts:
- Readership Survey – to conduct a comprehensive survey aimed at understanding the reading skills and habits, available and preferred channels for books in 9 Arab countries.
- South/South Translations – to establish a program sponsoring translations into Arabic and aimed at creating a viable market niche for translated materials
- Database on Translations – to create an on-line database that documents book production in the Arab world, covering both original and translated works.
- Arabic Encyclopaedia – to develop a general use reference work in Arabic available on-line and on CD.
2. EAST TRANSLATES EAST
One of the pervasive structural features of globalization is that information tends to flow in one direction - from the rich countries of the core to the periphery of poorer countries. In the case of Central and Eastern Europe, the flow is predominantly from West to East, although East-East intellectual exchange may often be of far greater value, given the common legacy of socialism and common experience of transition. However, economic and infrastructural factors currently make any East-East exchange difficult.
As the only organization focusing systematically on the area of East-East relations, and on East-East publishing and translation in particular, Next Page aims to expand the East Translates East program so that it provides a framework – both economic and infrastructural - for intellectual, cultural and literary exchange throughout the region.
In 2005-2006, Next Page will build on its unique position in the region by focusing on four areas of activity to enhance East-East relations:
- Networking and information exchange
Next Page will collaborate with a number of partners to raise the profile of East Translates East activities and ensure wider access to information about original works from Eastern Europe. Next Page will also foster a network of prominent cultural journalists, editors and publishers who will contribute to the exchange of information about publications in the region through articles and reviews. Part of this activity will be to initiate and support study visits, in partnership with national book promotion agencies, to introduce journalists to the literature and publishing scene in the recipient country.
- Policy-related initiatives
Next Page will advocate placing East-East publishing exchange and promotion higher on the agenda of organizations such as the EU, national funding bodies and large international projects. As part of a larger lobbying campaign to encourage support for national book sector promotion across the region, Next Page will commission a study on translation promotion policies in Central and Eastern Europe.
East Translates East will continue to provide grants on a competitative basis for the translation and promotion of original works from Eastern Europe, with a particular focus on translations between the new EU member states and the rest of the region. We will divide the grants program into two separate strands, one for contemporary fiction, and the other for humanities, and will develop clear criteria and appropriate mechanisms of promotion and support for each.
- Marketing and promotion
Publishers participating in East Translates East will be able to take advantage of the mechanisms for support for marketing and promotion activity offered as part of the Foundation’s Wider Europe priority (see p.12), including short placements, and consultancies with Book Marketing Research in Poland.
3. VORBA: Viable Opportunities for Romani Book Access
Roma are the largest minority group in Europe and Romani (or Romanes) is increasingly being used as a written language both in print and in electronic communication. Romani is becoming a center of positive self-identification for the European Roma community and a means for overcoming social marginalization. Development and expansion of the language in public communication are powerful tools for emancipation of the Roma. Despite the lack of standardization of oral and written Romani, the mutual intelligibility of most varieties allows for the publications to reach a bigger audience, beyond national borders.
Publishing in the Romani language dates back to the early 20th century. While the majority of the printed publications in Romani are newspapers and magazines, the number of publishers or NGOs publishing books in Romani has been growing in recent years.
The Vorba project aims to facilitate and advance the process of transformation of Romani in a fully developed language of social, cultural and educational communication in its own right. It does so by supporting publications in the Romani language and by providing tools for the development of professional skills in publishing in Romani. Professional skills development will comprise of two elements. First, Next Page will transmit know-how and best practices both in strategy and implementation to Romani publishers and NGOs and second will train these publishers and NGOs to be successful initiators and parters in long-term educational initiatives supported by the governments or international donors.
In 2005 -2006 Next Page will focus on:
1. Development of Romani language and access to Romani language publications
2. Professional capacity building
By organizing internships for individuals involved in Romani publishing the program will increase the competence of individuals involved in Romani publishing. This internships will provide temporary placements in non-Romani publishing enterprises for Roma that are motivated to further develop their publishing skills.
Within the grants program, ongoing consultations at the project preparation and realization stages will continue thus ensuring professional implementation of the projects and wider dissemination of their results. A mentoring follow-up phase of internships will include consultations on developing a long-term strategy for the organization's publishing operations at regular meetings.
- A Grants Program will continue to support projects for print and web publications in different Romani dialects. All projects are expected to have an educational and intercultural approach and to be of interest to a wide Romani audience and a range of age groups in different countries. The grants program will combine open competition with a more proactive approach in investing in the most committed organizations.
- Next Page will continually up-date an On-line Library of full-text versions of all projects supported by the grant program, thus further extending the reach and accessibility of these texts.
- A Romani publishers' book fair will be organized at some of the international book fairs in CEE. Furthermore, Next Page will lead a concrete effort to establish such fair as e regular venue at international book fairs.
3. Promotion of Reading
4. Evaluation of the Romani Publications Project
The evaluation will assess the achievements of the Vorba Project since its establishment and will conclude to what extent and in what way the project has produced the results expected. The evaluation will identify those deficits and issues in Romani language usage that require additional long-term commitments and will thus form the base for the development of the project beyond 2006.
- The program will involve targeted reading promotion campaigns, development of informational resources on books in Romani, fostering distribution initiatives (catalogues, direct distribution, etc.) with particular stress on cross-border distribution and establishing of book funds at educational and cultural institutions in Romani communities.
- Reading events will be staged at book fairs and in special editions of TV and radio programs.
4. WIDER EUROPE
The EU - accession process is creating new borders within Europe – borders between the ones that are in and the rest of Europe, or the “third countries” that remain beyond the new curtain - Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Turkey, Macedonia, and the Western Balkans. If European enlargement is not to remain only a political and economic process, one of the challenges facing Europe today is to deepen and expand cooperation with its new neighbors. Evidences suggest that the new neighbors at the borders of an enlarged EU are already looked upon mainly in terms of security (for the EU itself) and stability (for the EU again), not in terms of development and cooperation.
In the field of publishing, a good example is the results from the latest Culture 2000 program round. While the overall participation of East European publishers is higher than in previous years (20 of a total of 58 supported projects include an East European partner), cooperation with non-candidate countries is negligible – only 1 project involves partners from these.
With its vast experience and contacts in what used to be the region of “Central and Eastern Europe”, Next Page is well positioned to make a change in this field.
The Foundation is not going to open a new program on cooperation across the new EU divide but would rather introduce a new thematic priority that will shape some of its current projects (first and foremost the East Translates East project grants) as well supplementary projects when opportunities occur. The latter may include three basic kinds of activities:
- Publishing cooperation in training, internships, and publishing curricula development in the “third countries” that utilizes resources and capacity from the new member states and the accession countries;
- Proactively promoting the inclusion of content from the new members and accession countries into the various development projects in the wider Europe (such as books on public policy and administration, legal reforms, transformation of high education system, cultural policy reforms, etc);
- Advocating for a better understanding of local publishing industries’ interests with large donors that have a publishing component in their public outreach strategies.
5. CENTRAL ASIAN PUBLICATIONS PROJECT
Our activities will be focused on Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
In program terms, 2005 will be a year for the Foundation to take a step back and revise its strategy in the region. Whatever it’s content, it will be based on:
- preliminary feasibility studies focusing mainly on 1) language issues and access to information in Russian and the local languages, and 2) channels and mechanisms for distribution of Russian-language materials
- a longer-term commitment that supposes projects’ timeframe of app. 5 years
6. NEW GEOGRAPHIES
This new program stream is designed to scale Next Page Foundation’s publishing-related experience from the “traditional OSI region” in the new geographical territories that OSI is gradually expanding into in order to examine how publishing may be used as a tool for the open society agenda in those countries. To do so, this new program stream will launch publishing studies in several different countries and/or on several different issues.
A secondary aim of the program will be to provide the basis that any large scale projects involving publishing component would need in order to achieve impact and not duplicate failures from other parts of the world. Examples of those include but are not limited to: large-scale textbook projects that are often launched by educators without involvement of local publishing sector, programs that require a detailed “map” of access to information or just any project that requires a well-thought public outreach and communication strategy.
In the “New Geographies”, Next Page will take a dual approach:
1. expand its activities that have special relevance for the developing countries – copyrights for publishing and translations
2. conduct a series of publishing-related studies
Three types of studies are being foreseen: of national book sectors, by specific problem and by language. The geographic and thematic scopes of the studies will be developed in close consultations with the respective OSI bodies. In 2005 the following will be launched as a priority:
- A study on book publishing in Iran with a particular focus on copyrights.
Iran is one of the few countries that have a significant book production and still have not signed the Berne convention on copyrights. The study will look at the Iranian book sector, making an attempt for a cost-benefit analysis of the consequences of copyright-free regulations as well as a qualitative analysis of those consequences with regard of censorship issues.
- A study of the trans-border publishing in Kurdish language
- A feasibility study of potential publishing cooperation between Tajik and Persian
- A study of the book sector of Afghanistan.
Each study will be made widely available and a specially tailored communication strategy will follow the release of the results. Each study will also be translated and distributed into the target country/ies.