Agenda – BWC GA 2014
Friday March 28
12.00 – 13.00 Lunch at the Centre
1. Opening of the GA and presentation
2. Approval of the Agenda
3. Election of the chairperson and secretary of the GA
4. Activity report, presented by Janina Orlov, the Chairperson of BWC
5. Reports of member organizations (max. 5 minutes)
6. Website contents, renewal of the structure, social media and newsletter with the news of member organizations (for ex. contract issues and other burning topics)
7. The renewal of BWC and BM – fresh ideas and new initiatives, and the proposition to change the name of BWC to BWTC (Baltic Writers´and Translators´Council)
Saturday March 29
8. Discussion about funding possibilities for BWC and BM activities
9. Budget. Treasurer’s report, presented by Mudite Treimane, the Treasurer of BWC
10. Auditors’ report
11. Membership fee for 2015
12. Election of the Board members. The members of the Board retiring by rotation are the Board members Tittamari Marttinen (the Secretary, unwilling to continue) and Mudite Treimane, willing to continue).
13. Election of the auditors
14. The date of the next GA 2015
15. The Ukranian issue
16. Other issues
17. Closing of the GA
Participants: Janina Orlov, Swedish Writers’ Union; Jaana Nikula, The Finnish Association of Translators; Ingrid Velbaum-Staub, Estonian Writers’ Union; Bjorn Ingvaldsen, Norwegian Association of Juvenile Literature; Mudite Treimane, Latvian Writers’ Union; Yulya Tsimafeyeva, Union of Belarusian Writers; Liutauras Degesys, Lithuanian Writers’ Union; Kazimiera Astrotoviene, Lithuanian Translators´ Association; Tittamari Marttinen; The Union of Finnish Writers, Hannu Niklander, The Union of Finnish Writers; Stefan Ingvarsson, Swedish Writers´ Union; Anne Rusanen, Finnish Association of Non-Fiction Writers; Tadeusz Dabrowski, Association of Polish Writers; Lena Pasternak, BCWT
Friday March 28
1) Opening of the GA and presentation.
The chairperson Ms Janina Orlov opened the meeting at 13.03. Presentation of the participants. Lena Pasternak presented herself and the house of BCWT. The new chair of the Center Ole Jansson presented himself. Then the other participants of the meeting were presented.
2) Election of the chairperson and the secretary of the GA.
Ms Orlov was elected to the chairperson of the meeting and Ms Marttinen was elected to the secretary of the GA.
3) Approval of the agenda.
The agenda was approved by the General Assembly. Ms Orlov ´s remarks and reports as well as Ms Pasternak´s report will be added top the agenda after the member organizations. Ms Nikula pointed out about Ukraina case and about the goal of BWC: what kind of discussion we would like to have and how to get to contact with the Ukranian colleagues. There was a discussion about the minutes – Ms Nikula asked for the minutes which were not ready in the first day of meeting because of the havoc of the secretary´s PC computer. The minutes were however found and saved and were available for the second day of meeting.
4. Activity report. The chairperson Janina Orlov presented the activity report of BWC 2013. The working group for Baltic Meeting explained why the meeting was postponed. At first there were Vilnius and Minsk in sight, but the plan was given up because of the heavy costs. There was not enough money available. BM was postponed to September but situation was still the same. The plan was not concrete and not specified enough for funding. Nordic organizations pointed out, that it is always better to have an exact plan for the event to motivate the application. Mr Ingvarsson stressed out that the application have to meet the basic standards and give an appropriate image of the project. There should not be unspecified costs and no calculations that give enough information to see the relevant budget . All needs to be motivated to be understood. The final decision of BM was made in November. At this stage Mr Liedtke left the group. So Ms Orlov, Ms Tsimafeyeva, Ms Astratoviene and Mr Degesys were in the working group. Lots of planning was done but the funding was all the time the problem. International guests were not yet invited.
Discussion of the Baltic Meeting problems were followed by discussion of the website renewal and new faces for the organization. There is a need for new, active members. Ms Orlov takes and has taken part in different evens, for example to the ceremony of the Nordic literary prize and many fairs. Ms Orlov also participated as a BWC representant in the GA of TSWTC in Rhodes.
5) Reports of member organizations. All the reports were presented: Reports from Lithuanian Writers´ Union, Estonian Writers´ Union, Finnish translators, Polish Writers Union (after that break of 10 min), The Union of Finnish Writers, Norwegian Writers for Children and Young People, The Finnish Non-fiction Writers, Belarusian Writers, Latvian Writers´ Union and Swedish Writers´ Union followed. The written reports from member organizations can be read on our homepage https://www.balticwriterscouncil.info/
There was a discussion about topics coming out from the reports. The anti-prize of Lithuanian writers raised a lot of interest. There is an idea for another prize for translations, the idea of it was presented by Ms Nikula. It is a Nordic initiative to fight against the fact that many unprofessional translators work with unreasonable fees. There is a difficult situation for literary translators in the union with 5 sections. Position of translators was discussed more. Also the library system in Norway was praised as a model. In the other countries the libraries should buy more copies, and there should be more grants available for writers and translators. When Ms Rutanen presented her organization, she told that Finnish Association of Non-Fiction writers had their 30th anniversary celebrations. She also told about the new professorship of non-fiction at the university. Her organization is actively lobbying for the parliament elections. Mr Ingvarsson proposed that it would be a good working method to collect the most interesting topics from the reports and work further according to them.
After the country reports Ms Pasternak, the Director of the BCWT, presented year 2013 of the Centre. She pointed out that last year there was the 20 years celebration of the Centre. 3000 books are written in the house, at least. There have been 300 guest nights, and a tendency of staying shorter periods for working. She told about plans to continue to open the house up for Visby and Gotland, so that people can come and see how the Centre is working. In May-June there was a compact program with a seminar, readings and party with the band and dj:s. There has been a focus on Belarus, thanks to special grants. She would like to see big events and educational program in the future and bigger training for translators by European funding, and more co-operation with other European centers, and networks with Turkey, Morocco, etc. She would like to see the Centre as an active meeting place and working place offering many possibilities for creation. She also pointed out that the region waits for more from the house, more to give back. One poetry festival etc. is not enough – there should be more visibility, more immediate showings, and she wanted everyone to think how to show it and how to do it. The house is under renovation, and already renovated partly, which is like a new fresh start. Should there also be more co-operation between BWC and BCWT in the future? Where to go and what to keep as the most precious and which part to develop more? Unsecure economy causes problems, but the spirit is good. There should be a stable solution to be found with the funding. It would be good to stimulate co-operation with schools in Gotland/Sweden.
6) Discussion on the website contents, renewal of the structure, social media and newsletter with the news of member organizations (for ex. contract issues and other burning topics). This was shift to Saturday morning.
7) The renewal of BWC and BM. Fresh ideas and new initiatives. The proposition to change the name of BWC to BWTC. Mr Ingvarssons proposition to concentrate on certain topics was approved. The focus is in these topics: co-operation in the organization level, fundraising, which way to go, how to attract new members, working from scratch in a new environment, opening up to new directions, inviting exchange experiences and to help the weaker members to strengthen themselves with concrete propositions, unification of Northern Europe, more East-and-West co-operation. Everyone was asked to prepare one minute point of view about the future of the council: what does this co-operation mean and can mean in the future. Relation to the Centre, what does it mean? What could be the future of the BWTC?
Shift of the agenda point 7 till Saturday morning session.
The chairperson Ms Orlov ended the session at 17.
The meeting was followed by the dinner at 20.
Saturday March 29
The chairperson Janina Orlov opened the second day of the meeting/second day at 10. 11.
6) There was a discussion about website contents, social media and newsletter. Is there a need for further development of website? Mr Ingvarsson pointed out that the website should be like a business card, there should not be more ambitions than that. Ms Treimane considered that the site is good now. Many members are satisfied as it is at the moment. Mr Degesys is not satisfied with himself not sending any news. How to organize that members send regularly some news to the secretary? There could be short English versions of the local events and reports regularly. But making the translations is slow. Ms Tsimafeyeva pointed out that the social media is used very often, there is lots of information, so it would be easy at least to share a link to FB with BWC. Mr Ingvarsson proposed that every member organization should have access to FB page and could add events there independently. Ms Tsimafeyeva proposed that there will be basic information in the website but FB is good channel for small actual news from member organizations. Mr Degesys asked if the working group is still useful to plan more social media activities. The board or even all the member organizations should have access to administration to the website, no need for working group any more, Mr Ingvarsson proposed this. It was approved by GA. So everybody should have access to FB page administration.
7) The renewal of BWC and BM – fresh ideas and new initiatives. Change of name to BWTC.
One minute speech was prepared during the night by everyone: wishes concerning the matter. Ms Treimane: when it comes to Baltic Meetings, it would be more reasonable to organize these meetings, not in every second year, but ever third year. Fundraising takes lots of time and energy, Ms Nikula pointed out. The preparation of Baltic Meetings causes too much work for the Council altogether. Ms Tsimafeyeva would like to raise more co-operation between/with members in the field of literary translations. She proposed some common projects, not only Baltic meetings but also books, web projects and workshops.
Ms Rutanen asked the question, what does this organization mean to our own organizations? In her point of view it would be useful to have more co-operation among different organizations and different positions: changing and sharing experiences and events. The creativity of BWC is lost if it is too stable – new ideas are always needed. There should be new ways to meet each other, for ex. tours and festivals, literary boats and other bigger events, around this area. The exchange of ideas is essential.
Mr Ingvarsson would like to emphasize work in the political level. According to him, international commitment to human rights and freedom of speech is important.
Mr Niklander points out that workshops between writers and translators to work on poetry and short stories would be a good idea, as well as stressing local Baltic atmosphere and the Centre as a meeting place. Mr Dabrowski draws attention to the website. There could be for ex. a map of most important literary events of the Baltic area. The website should be more lively website dedicated to Baltic countries, there could be writers presented and their voices recorded: collecting voices of poetry in translation. In Visby there could be slam poetry performances during the medieval week; readings in ferries (ferry to poetry) and other concrete ideas.
Ms Nikula sees the focus in the freedom of expression and information about member organizations. Ms Astratoviene wants to share general know-how and information about contracts. She points out that by email is hard to organize BM and big events are easier to plan live, or by email and in the meetings. Ms Velbaum-Staub points out ideas about co-operation and shared information. Mr Degesys stresses on co-operation with Centre to be more useful for all and he would like to combine literary events with GA using the relations of the network. The need of co-operation between member organizations is widely agreed as well as exchange of ideas and information.
Ms Pasternak says that cultural political exchange with other countries together should be more strong in the future, and she looks for straight talks in the higher level for those who are responsible for the culture politics, European funding connected to the Centre, there must be channels to secure the center financially. Mr Degesys raised up the idea of prize for the writer: something like best book award for a writer who is writing about Visby, especially for visibility reasons.
Ms Orlov wants to ask a question who are we, how we are going and what to do next and there should be some general cultural politics associated to BWC. She wants to hear not just the flow of ideas, but to be more concrete – freedom of expression included – what is the core of this organization, what is the common view, what kind of strategy is needed for the main agenda as the basis. Mr Ingvarsson says that he is tired with fireworks and would like to go down to the core trade union and political lobby as there is lot of work to do with lot of countries, there are freedom of expression issues, and for ex. Sweden is a good environment to support writers, give help and asylyms. According to him, in the BWC there is lots of potential but we have to find a way – meetings of the highest level – and strategies to work for politics. The work has to be relevant for the actual work and there must be concrete goals; the funding must come from many sources, Sweden can be one of those. Also Ms Orlov asks for focus and direction. Ms Nikula says that there must be a real BALTIC council and she points out that for example the ancien Soviet states have no voice at all, Ms Orlov asks where to draw the line? Ms Nikula gives an example of Pussy Riot giving statement and information at the same time, but we have done nothing which is also a statement. Mr Orlov then asks if our statements are visible at all and what is the impact of them.
Ms Nikula points ut there BWC need not to be a statement automat – but we can use FB for example. Mr Ingvarsson says that we are a council of co-operation with different meetings to form common projects and support each other and have projects together, but the purpose is not to act as a one voice. We have to decide if we support something before posting, common statements can only be sent after GA when we have discussed a certain topics and agree of the statement on one specific subject that concerns all of us; so to speak with one voice we need a decision. He asks: should we act as an organization itself or are we co-operation council?
A new round will be after the break: what to pick up of these ideas? Mr Ingvarsson sees that we have to develop the ideas further for next GAs.
Coffee break, back at 11:29.
Question to be raised: Will there be new common projects? What do we want to organize?
Ms Tsimafeyeva wants to see concrete connection with freedom of expression; voices of poets and discussions about the situation that is different in different countries. Ms Pasternak says that we have to underline conditions of writers; conditions to work in peace and to be paid as other uniting issues, but there is also political role in the society. Mr Degesys sees BM as the most important event. Ms Tsimafeyeva points out the web project: fighting for borders we realize who we are. An important topic is to see the right to write your own language and exchange – so the freedom of speech is uniting everything as a basic idea.
Mr Ingvarsson says that we all like the idea of exchange of experiences. Ms Orlov sees that legal advice are important issues. Mr Ingvarsson says that Sweden is interested in legal support between members but otherwise literary clubs and magazines and talks about artistic values; he considers that there are many different views in the BWC which is healthy as a situation, and the common purpose is to concentrate on common issues and worries; he hopes that for ex. Belarus will one day have the same situation of open market and stimulate the healthy publishing. Mr Dabrowski questions what is the Baltic identity that units us: it is not only politics and history but in the deeper sense, in is pointof view to define or explore the identity goes on in the level of art. He proposes the “Baltic snake poetry project” going through the countries and exploring what does it mean that we are Baltic nations. Ms Rutanen asks how should we approach this freedom of expression, not doing the same that PEN is doing already, she wants to see something new as there are lots of events already. Something new and special enough. Mr Ingvarsson linked the discussion to the city of refuge that is a concrete need. Lifes are threathened. There are acute situations and the freedom of speech work should be connected to this, there should be discussions about Syria, Irak, Iran, Somalia and Sudan. We should be in to make up projects with countries who face these problems. Ms Orlov says that maybe we should focus on the freedom of expression in the form of Baltic meeting and a video.
New questions are raising up: Baltic Meetings purpose, wand here, how and when to organize it next time? Everyone agrees that the freedom of expression is great as the main theme.
Is there a need to develop the GA? Ms Astratoviene and Ms Tsimafeyeva consider that it is working already as a meeting point. Mr Degesys sees that there shoud be key note speakers in the GA. Some content should be offered also by the administration staff. A new input of program for both days if possible. There is a discussion if there should be practical workshops or just keynote speeches. Focus in BMs could be to very specific topics and more people should be involved. But GA is still organization´s meeting, Mr Degesys points out. Mr Ingvarsson thinks that BM should be in a workshop form to be able to offer concrete services for younger members of unions. Co-operation with many organizations would give new ideas. Ms Orlov considers that BM needs fresh blood. There should not always same people in the same events. But the focus should be to work and focus intensively in certain issues. There was a discussion if there should be a series of workshops instead of a big meeting. After the discussion Ms Orlov proposed that the board can come up with a suggestion for the future work.
Mr Degesys proposed that there will be a series of workshops. Mr Ingvarsson proposed that the next BM will be focusing on 2-3 issues. Ms Orlov added that there could be a series of meetings in different falls and places. 9 organizations were interested in joining the seminar of legal advice. Best practices should be presented from different countries. For ex. there could be representatives of the board and legal advicers from the Swedish Writers´ Union telling about their experiences. The working group will be made to plan for the best possibilities. There could be a happening with 2-3 workshops and artistic program maybe in the fall 2015 or spring 2016. Where – the board will find out.
It was decided that next Baltic Meeting will be in three years now (2017). Theme: Freedom of expression. A draft for the board was done. More writers should be involved in this meeting, says Mr Degesys. Ms Orlov says that the last BM was organized to show the world what we are doing, and we all are professionals. Ms Pasternak says that to bring it to the public is good. Mr Ingvaldsen sees that the application process can be started at once when we know the theme and place and the form. Visby is proposed by many members. Also Vilnius – Minsk is a good option. Everbody agrees that the basic idea and some structure must be decided as early as possible to make applications for funding in different countries. Mr Ingvarsson says that the program to Minsk is possible to add later if we choose Vilnius now. So there is a decision that 2017 Baltic Meeting will be in Vilnius, theme: Freedom of expression. No-one is against. Workshops in 2015 will be on the themes of communication and legal advising. Votes: 13 yes.
8) Discussion about funding possibilities for BWC and BM activities. This issue is not discussed widely but have been a part of the general discussion of new ideas.
15) Discussion about Ukraine and other possible new members. Ms Tsimafeyeva will contact Ukrainian colleagues and explain what they should do to become members. Ms Nikula raises up the question what way to go. Mr Ingvarsson finds it difficult to include Georgia and not Ukraine especially now in this situation. Ms Nikula considers that ex-Soviet countries knock the doors now and we should open them if they need us. Ukrainian writers have worked in the Centre, Ms Pasternak mentioned. All agree inviting Ukrainian writers. Mr Ingvarsson will contact the new Polish translators´ union and invite them to join in. Ms Nikula likes to see Russian PEN St Petersburg or Moscow PEN to be invited as members. Mr Ingvarsson says that all countries have PENs so it seems a bit strange to have them as members. Ms Nikula says that Kaliningrad wanted to join. Ms Orlov says there is a need to check the member organizations which are not answering and to try to get in touch with them. Ms Rutanen also finds it strange to contact just one PEN. Ms Nikula points out that many writers might be in PEN and not in the writers´ union. Ms Pasternak says that PEN is very selective there and that the organization that works best in Russia is PEN. Ms Orlov says that now we speak about invitation. Normally members apply for the membership. Ms Rutanen says that if they apply we should not shut the doors so why to invite them? Ms Pasternak points out that St Petersburg is in the proximity to the Baltic Sea. Ms Tsimafeyeva reminds us that Russia is under high pressure right now. So it would be good to show them our support. Mr Ingvarsson says that it is not impossible to make an exception for Russian Pen and to get them into contact. Or would it ne an option to make them as a contact partner maybe not as a member? Ms Nikula points out that the relationship with Russian authors is most important whatever is the association. Mr Dabrowski will get the information and we write a letter and give information and discuss more about the topic. Mr Ingvarsson proposes that we can see them as invited guest. All agree unanimously. Agreed for all invitations and contacts.
At 12:55 lunch break.
The assembly continued at 14.09. Ms Orlov asked if anybody wanted to add something to the previous discussion but no-one had further points of view.
9) Budget. Treasurer´s report, presented by Ms Treimane, the treasurer of BWC. Situation is better, she says. Kaliningrad and St Petersburg has normally paid in cash. Again there is the issue that every member cannot pay in time. Budget proposal is approved by the GA.
10) The Auditors Mr Lars Magnus Lahne and Ms Merete Jensen gave their report. They found the books in excellent order and the Board was granted freedom of responsibility.
11) Membership fee for 2015. Proposition 150 euro has been stable for many years. It was accepted. We keep it. Agreed unanimously.
12) Election of the Board members. The Board members of the Board retiring by rotation were the Board members Ms Tittamari Marttinen (the secretary, unwilling to continue) and Ms Mudite Treimane (willing to continue). Ms Jaana Nikula is elected to be a secretary for one year.
13) Election of the auditors. Ms Jensen and Mr Lahne were proposed and re-elected auditors.
14) The date of the next GA 2015. We considered that it would be nice to co-operate with the Gotland Bokmässan. It is settled on April 17-18, 2015. Nobody was against that proposition. Mr Ingvarsson asked for the board preparations to invite someone to give a speech at the next GA. Proposals are welcome by mail.
15) The Ukrainian issue was already discussed.
16) Other issues. Change of name of BWC to BWTC. Ms Treimane points out that centre has same letters in different order. Ms Orlov says that BWC is easy but we want to promote translators. It is worth checking that it might cost money to change the name. This will be considered again in the next GA after preparations.
17) Closing of the GA. The chairperson Janina Orlov closed the GA and thanked all the participants at 16.47.
Dinner at 20
Janina Orlov, The chairperson Tittamari Marttinen, The secretary