The International Literature Showcase, organized by the National Centre for Writing and British Council, is dedicated to sharing knowledge and exploring new ways of working. This year the ILS invited literature practitioners worldwide to examine the opportunities and challenges of a post-Covid world.
I was honoured to be part of this Symposium. I was the only Italian delegate, but not the only Italian because to make this meeting even more precious there was the talented Giulia Coppola whom I share here two fragments of her sketch notes.
On the first day, the main topic was LITERATURE WORK NOW: how has the experience of living through the last 18 months impacted the Literature sector? Literature practitioners from Japan to Trinidad passing through Ghana and Spain confronted best practices and the upcoming challenges of the world of literature from the point of view of writers, artists, organizers and even readers. A way to no longer feel the loneliness we have experienced in the last year. One way not to be lonely and to return to social life is to travel; I share here an interesting website on mobility funding https://on-the-move.org/resources/funding!
We talked about WELL-BEING OF/FOR LITERATURE PROFESSIONALS and EMPOWERING ARTISTS, AUDIENCES & COMMUNITIES during the second-day session. I have not always encountered this topic in cultural debates and the world of artistic designers in Italy. What I have shared with other colleagues from countries very far from Italy is that the work of cultural project manager – especially for those who work in the organization of festivals or cultural events – is multidisciplinary, requires transversal skills and a presence in several offices, and it is often one of many. Because, as often happens for independents and freelancers, those who work in this sector personally manage multiple projects and, therefore, numerous workgroups. An important strategy that I welcomed from a colleague and shared is that it can be implemented to manage empathy, an important skill to have and essential to learn to drive. Empathy towards oneself, towards workgroups and the outside world. Another theme linked to well-being that has come out overwhelmingly is to consider all the actors of a festival, in particular, the writers and artists of the people and not just “parts” of the project, giving them an idea of the context in which they are invited, giving them the certainty of finding a safe space. In the last few years, writers are increasingly aware of the choice to participate in one event rather than another by asking who is in the same event, requesting that inclusive participation be verified. This is also part of the well-being of the artists and the public.
The third and last session was on THE FUTURE OF LITERATURE WORK. Ideas, suggestions, desire to network: these are the elements of that last day. And a lot of generosity, both on the part of the delegates and the role of the organizers. What we all expect in this sector is the possibility of creating connections between larger and smaller organizations, increasing attention to inclusiveness, a knowledge of the contexts, a democratization of the book. I was pleased to share my idea of introducing READING as a school subject because in different countries there is the same feeling about the importance of starting from school, from young students in growing a community of readers, future adult readers. There are still barriers in some parts of the world because books are expensive or no real book supply chain. But indeed, this network will work to understand how to find international but, at the same time, local solutions.
A lot of work to do, but a lot of energy to share!