Baltic Writers Council (BWC), General Assembly 2017

Time and place: 28–29 April 2017, Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators, Uddens gränd 3, 621 56 Visby, Sweden.
The following representatives of organisations were present: Swedish Writers’ Union (Viveka Sjögren), The Union of Finnish Writers (Jyrki Vainonen, Hannu Niklander), Society of Swedish Writes in Finland (Malin Kivelä), The Finnish Association of Finnish Non-Fiction Writers (Jukka-Pekka Pietiäinen), Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators (Kazimiera Astratoviene), Lithuanian Writers’ Union (Marius Burokas), Estonian Writers’ Union (Tiit Aleksejev, Piret Viires) Latvian Writers’ Union (Mudite Treimane), Association of Polish Writers (Bogdan Baran), Polish Assciation of Literary Translators (Justyna Czechowska), The Union of Belarusian Writers (Aliaksandra Dvaretskaya). Lena Pasternak was representing the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators.
1. The Chairperson of BWC Kazimiera Astratoviene opened the meeting at 13:00 on Friday April 28th 2017. The participants of the meeting shortly presented themselves.
2. The Agenda of the meeting was approved by the Assembly.
3. Kazimiera Astratoviene was elected chairperson for the meeting, Piret Viires was elected secretary.
4. The Chairperson of the BWC, Kazimiera Astratoviene, presented the activity report for BWC, for the year of 2016:
“Last year BWC had an extended GA on 22nd–24th of April, it took place in Visby. The meeting began with a cultural event organized by the Baltic Writers Council and the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators.
The name and the theme of the event was “Literary Encounters in Europe: Them and Us”, it took place in the Almadalen Library and included discussions on burning topics and readings of poetry, prose and non-fiction.
It was decided to invite Stina Oscarson, Swedish dramatic, author and social commentator as a key-note speaker, she delivered a speech on a topic “Can culture prevent violence?”
For the first time there was a non-fiction session organized: journalist and foreign correspondent Stig Fredrikson discussed the topic “Russia and the border states today” together with editor Kalle Kniivilä, and Russian journalist and academic Artemy Troitsky. The whole program of the event can be found on the website of BWC so I will not go into further details. But I would like to once more thank all the participants and those who helped with a preparation of the event or the fund raising.
From my point of view, that the event was a successful and inspiring one and the main reason for that was a collaboration between the Baltic Writers Council and Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators. And the contribution of the Finnish Assocation of Non-Fiction Writers was essential. It is also important to note that we had a Campus Gotland University as our partner.
Applications for seminar funding were sent to the Nordic Cultural Fund, Swedish-finnish culture fund (Svenska kulturfonden), Finnish Art Promoting Centre (Taike) and Swedish Writers’ Union. Finnish Art Promoting Centre provided us 2000 euro, Nordic Cultural Fund, Swedish-Finnish culture fund and Swedish Writers’ Union didn’t grant us. Besides, Campus Gotland Uppsala University granted us 10 000 Swedish Crowns and Non-fiction Promotion Centre Finland paid the costs of the non-fiction session “Russia and the Boder States Today” (approx. 1600 euros).
So the whole event costed about 36 thousand Swedish crowns, and we used 18 thousand from the budget of BWC.
After the event, on 23rd–24th of April, the General Assembly of 2016 for the Baltic Writers Council was arranged. 14 persons representing 11 organisations from 7 countries took part in the meeting.
Last year Ukrainian writers were willing to join BWC but it was impossible due to their organization status, so me and Marius Burokas from the Lithuanian Writers Union were looking for different possibilities to help them in changing the status in order to become members. Also we made some investigation looking for other organizations in Ukraine suitable to become members. Sadly, without any results. It only seems possible to have Ukrainians as invited guests during the readings or a seminar arranged as part of cultural event (maybe even next year.)”
The GA approved the report.
5. Discussion about the extended GA 2018: what is our plan for the next year?
The participants of the GA discussed about the possible literary event in 2018. Kazimiera Astratoviene pointed that it is big challenge for a board to organize big literary events with no secured funding. After the discussion it was decided that in 2018 a smaller literary event will be organised, readings in the venue of Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators, preliminary title of it will be “Open House”. The event will be organised jointly by BWC and BCWT. BWC board tries to get some extra funding and invite performers from Ukraine. BWC member organisations are asked to send poets and readers to the event and cover their costs. GA decided that the details of the event, organising and funding should be the responsibility of the board.
Coffee break
The GA continued at 14.50.
6. Travel fund as a help for the members of BWC. The GA decided to create a travel fund as a possibility to apply for a grant to participate in the GA. The details of the creating the fund and the application procedure were left to decide for the board.
7. Membership questions. The GA decided that the membership fee is the same as previous years, 150 euros. Fortunately there are no late fees, all members have paid.
Discussion about membership of Ukrainian organization. It was decided to invite a member of Ukrainian organization to the literary event “Open House” and then discuss the matter during the GA in 2018.
8. BCWT news by Lena Pasternak, director of BCWT.
During 2016, 192 writers and translators stayed at the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators. 25% residents were from Sweden, also Norway, Finland, Estonia, Poland are on the top. 85% residents are from the Baltic Sea region, 15% from the rest of Europe and Africa. There have been translation workshops (e.g. collaboration with Moscow). Other events: Almendalen Week (politicians), workshop for women from East-African countries etc. Collaboration with schools, children are invited to the centre. Open house readings are organised all the year round. Interviews with writers and the aim of these interviews is to publish a book. BWTC is part of international network of European Writers’ and Translation Houses. Co-operation with Estonian Writers Union and German translators fund who issue scholarships for staying in Visby. Swedish Institute supports Serbian writers. Also there is co-operation with Belarus. BWTC is a centre for cultural diplomacy, cultural exchange and a strong actor in opinion building and language developing. The strength of the centre – it is a house built by writers and translators, it is a place to visit for work and contemplation.
9. Reports from member-organizations. The delegates from each organization presented reports. A few reports were left for tomorrow’s session. The delegates were asked to send their reports via e-mail. See Appendix.
The session was ended at about 17.00.
The GA was resumed on Saturday April 29th at 10:00.
10. Teasurer’s report by Mudite Treimane the Treasurer of BWC. The Treasurer Mudite Treimane presented the finances of 2016 and the budget of 2017. The economy is stable, all members have payed membership fee. The cultural event was supported by BWC and Finnish Arts Promoting Centre. The budget for 2017 is 26 000 SEK.
Travel support issue. The representative of Polish Association of Literary Translators Justyna Czechowska had applied for a travel support 200 EUR due to the financial difficulties of her organisation. The GA took a vote (9 for, 0 against, 0 neutral) and decided to grant Justyna Czechowska a travel support of 200 EUR. Justyna Czechowska left the room during the discussion and did not take part in the vote.
11. Auditors report. Justyna Czechowska and Lena Pasternak presented the Auditors report. The auditor found the books in excellent order, finances were used according to the purposes and the board was granted freedom of responsibility.
After hearing the Treasurer’s report and Auditor’s report General Assembly approved unanimously the finances of 2016 and the budget for 2017.
12. Reports from member organizations continued. See Appendix.
The session was ended for lunch break at 13:00
The session was resumed after lunch break at 14:00.
13. Elections.
Election of Baltic Writers Council board members.
Kazimiera Astratoviene (retiring by rotation). Heidi von Wright (retiring by rotation), Yulya Tsimafeyeva (retiring by rotation, cannot continue).
As the result of the elections Kazimiera Astratoviene (Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators) was re-elected to serve as a chairperson of BWC. Piret Viires (Estonian Writers Union) was elected to serve as a secretary of the board and Viveka Sjögren (Swedish Writers Union) was elected as a regular board member.
Jukka-Pekka Pietiäinen (The Finnish Association of Finnish Non-Fiction Writers) is continuing as a vice chairman of BWC and Mudite Treimane (Latvian Writers Union) is continuing as a treasurer.
Election of The Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators board members.
The GA also elected two members to the Board of The Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators. Mudite Treimane and Yulya Tsimafeyeva were elected as board members and Hannu Niklander and Malin Kivelä as substitutes.
Election of Auditors.
Lena Pasternak and Justyna Czechowska were elected auditors.
14. Reports from member organizations continued. See Appendix.
15. Other issues.
The were no other issues to discuss.
16. Date for the next GA was decided to be 20th–22nd April 2018 with a smaller literary event included.
17. The session and GA was ended at 16.00.

Kazimiera Astratoviene              Piret Viires
Chairperson                                       Secretary