Created in 1999, the "Grinzane Europe Network for the Promotion of Books, Reading and Translation" is linked with the Grinzane Cavour Prize. It was made possible partially thanks to the contribution of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry for Arts and Culture, Piedmont Region and the Compagnia di San Paolo, and now involves a considerable number of cultural organisations. As part of the preparatory work carried out on the 20th of March 1999, in Paris, the Grinzane Cavour Prize presented the pilot project aimed at creating the European Network for the promotion of books, reading and translation which involves over 50 institutions from 14 European countries. During the meeting in Paris, the institutions and cultural centres of books and reading, libraries, universities, colleges and translation associations involved in the project signed an agreement.
The Network intends to develop activities and projects at European level destined to enhance the value of books, reading and translating, promoting their fundamental role in our culture as a means of transmitting knowledge and providing an educational tool for future generations.
Since its establishment, the Network has received the acknowledgement and support of the European Commission.
In its first year, the Network developed a series of activities accomplished as "Experimental Actions" with the contribution of the Culture 2000 programme (project n. EXP99/2/48-S12.137138 ligne budgétaire B3-2005). These included:
- An exchange programme for professionals in the reading, translation, writing and libraries sector.
- A competition for young European readers.
- Preparatory work on the creation of a "Permanent observatory on reading in Europe".
- The development of a website on reading aimed at young people.
As far as the Website project, which was proposed during a Network meeting held in Turin on the 21st of January 2000, is concerned, the following details have been presented:
the project, directed by the partners from Opening the Book (Pontefract United Kingdom), is aimed mainly at young people between the ages of 16 and 30, who regularly use the Internet, and covers these four main fields: a) readers' answers to five key questions, written in the language of the participant and translated into French and English; b) contributions by a group of writers on the theme of reading, written in the author's language and translated into French and English; c) information on the institutions that belong to the Network; d) publication of the most interesting works by entrants to the "Europe's Young Readers" competition organised by the Network in March 2000.
The information available on-line translated into French and English is supplied by the Ireland Literature Exchange and British Centre for Literary Translation.
The Grinzane Europe Network (2000-2003)
In 2000, the Network took part in the three-year Culture 2000 project (A2/I33 budgetary line B3-2008) presented to the European Commission on the 31st of May 2000 and subsequently approved by the latter.
The whole project covers four main areas:
- Writing, translation and reading workshops to create awareness of minority languages.
- Training and educational exchange trips between professionals.
- Website, development of literary creation and reading.
- Reading observatory: statistical investigations and general status of reading.
The workshops cover five different topics: a) meetings between writers, translators and readers for the promotion of books and reading in schools; b) workshops for young translators: 1) dramatic writing seminars - 2) training seminars with professional translators; c) reader development workshops aimed at librarians and centres for books and reading; d) reading and translation of literature written in minority languages.
To further develop culture at European level, every year the Network organises a series of exchange projects between professionals in each of the three sectors: books, libraries and translation, financed by bursaries so that operators can take part in the working life of parallel institutions.
Another area of Network activity is the creation of a permanent European Observatory on reading, which gathers and analyses data on the book market from each country, analyses behaviour, in terms of reading, paying particular attention to young people, and analyses bibliographies and statistics on translated books, promoting the organisation of statistical investigations and research into cultural consumption and different situations throughout Europe. This information makes it possible to create a database for studies of the European economy, geography and politics and is stored in the Network's website.
The www.grinzane.net website shows Internet users the history and activity of the Grinzane Europe Network. The idea behind the project was to develop a website in five languages (English, French, Spanish, German and Italian), destined to young European users of "virtual space". During the project's first year of activity, attention was concentrated on the development of the institutional area dedicated to partners and their projects, while the next two years will be devoted, as well as to updating the contents of the website, to creating a completely interactive area to promote cultural dialogue and mutual understanding through books and reading, proving that books and computers can interact in a creative way.
As well as presenting the data and related conclusions supplied by the Observatory, it includes the various sections of the Network magazine, presentation of the partners, project activities, a calendar of events aimed at professionals in the sector and an interactive area aimed at young users, and offers links to the sites of all Network partners for forums and chat groups. It will also supply both institutions and the public with information on the project and news.
- the promotion of translation culture, with special regard to literary, theatrical and film translation, by sensitising public opinion to the role performed by translation in the culture of every country, especially where minority languages are concerned. An important part of the Network's projects specifically concerns the training of literary translators, aimed at constantly improving the quality of translations.
- the promotion of schools and libraries as privileged places in which to read and meet writers, thus contributing to the development of the pleasure of reading.
- the promotion of reading and writing, with the organisation of a competition aimed at "young readers".
Grinzane Europe investigations
In conjunction with the Network's activity for the promotion of books, reading and translation, the Grinzane Cavour Prize has promoted a series of investigations to find out about relationships between culture and young people.
In 1995, 1996 and 1997, the Grinzane organisation carried out three investigations in Italy: "Young People and Reading", "Young People, Newspapers and Journalism" and "Young People and Film". In 1997 and 1998, this investigation procedure became European, involving students from France, England, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain. The results of the "Grinzane Europe '97: High school students in Europe and Reading" competition were announced in Paris in March 1998.
This project, promoted by the European Community Commission (Arianna Programme), was created by the Grinzane Prize as part of an agreement with: Département des Etudes et de la Prospective - Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication (France); Centre d'Etudes sur la Situation des Jeunes en Europe (Luxembourg); Departamento de Filología Moderna (Area de Italiano) - Universidad de Salamanca (España); Instituto Português da Arte Cinematográfica e Audiovisual - Ministério da Cultura (Portugal); Department of Italian - University College London (Great Britain).
It was accomplished with the contribution of the Italian Republic Ministry for Arts and Culture (Publishing Division), the Italian Republic Ministry of Foreign Affairs (General Management of Cultural Relations), the Latin Union (Paris), the Giovanni Agnelli Foundation (Turin) and the Compagnia di San Paolo (Turin).
Since 1997, Grinzane Reading has expanded throughout Europe, giving life to Grinzane Europe. The investigation, one of the first at European level, was promoted by the European Community Commission and by the Ministry for Arts and Culture, as part of an agreement with the Giovanni Agnelli Foundation and the Compagnia di San Paolo of Turin. The results were announced and discussed by experts in the sector, both at the Paris Book Fair in March and at the Turin Book Fair in May.
The aim of the first edition survey was to investigate the habits of young people in Europe with regard to reading and leisure time. Questionnaires were distributed to young people in five European capitals: Luxembourg, Paris, Madrid, Lisbon and Rome. At common European level, the intention of the Grinzane Prize is to draw attention to the need to encourage cultural exchange between various national identities and to individuate common historical and human roots.
At the beginning of the third millennium, younger generations will play the leading role in politics and culture; the development and execution of investigations across the whole European territory is just the first step by the Grinzane Cavour Prize.
Grinzane Europe'98: young people of Europe, literature and film was a project aimed at investigating the relationship that exists between two of the essential aspects that create the imaginary world of young people: film and literature - words and pictures. Involving young people from six countries (Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg and Great Britain), the project focussed on a sociological basis aimed at establishing how young Europeans spend their leisure time, paying special attention to the time dedicated to reading and watching films. Aware of the close two-way link that has always existed between literature and film, the Grinzane Prize intends to individuate a sort of topography of young people's relationship with these worlds, and to gain an understanding of the most important trends that characterise the world of young people and modern society in relation to these phenomena.
The aim of Grinzane Europe '99: reading in Europe. Young people of Europe, domestic literature and foreign literature was to continue the 1997 investigation, amplifying its range of interest to the literary preferences and choices of young European readers, as well as the literary proposals and types that most attract and influence them. Organised into an investigation phase, a presentation phase and a discussion of the results with experts from the sector and, lastly, into the publication of the results, the investigation, which involved young people from Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, Greece, Germany and Great Britain, aimed to answer several fundamental questions on young people and reading in the run-up to the year 2000. What books make up the patrimony and reflect the real tastes of the young European reader? What are their favourite types of book, authors and subjects? What time is dedicated, which criteria are applied to and what is the purpose of reading? What does reading in Europe mean today? Are there similarities between the various countries? What knowledge do young Europeans have of the literary products of their neighbours? Do they have a precise idea of what their culture and literature mean to others of the same age in other EEC countries? And, lastly, can we speak of true circulation of the literary patrimony in Europe?
"Grinzane Europe 2000: young people of Europe, literature and music" was a project which involved young people from eight European countries (Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, Greece, Germany and Great Britain) in an investigation into the relationship between music and literature. Without presuming to provide an answer to the unsolved dispute on the dominance of one art over another, which has crossed the centuries, the investigation will provide us with an up to date portrait of the young European, concentrating on musical preferences linked closely to literary education and preferences. In what way do music and literature interact today and how much influence do they really have on each other? Are there similarities between musical and literary tastes? Which art form dominates in the collective imagination of young people and how is it best expressed? Is there a shift in sensitivity towards one art form as opposed to another? And how do both resist the growing impetus of the form that seems to best represent the perceptive and aesthetic destiny of the new age: pictures?
The answers to this and many other questions offer an opportunity to reflect not only on the situation of young people in Europe in relation to the arts, but also on the destiny of our civilisation.
As of 2001 the Grinzane Europe investigations have become part of a much more extensive programme called "Grinzane Europe Network for the Promotion of Books, Reading and Translation"