Making diversity mainstream
European charter for an inclusive book sector
Our society is diverse and becoming more so all the time. That is the reality. In certain cities or neighbourhoods, minorities have actually become the majority. Sadly this diverse reality is not reflected everywhere. Characteristics such as socio-economic or cultural background, gender, sexual preference and physical or mental disabilities determine how a person is regarded, consciously or otherwise, and how easy or difficult it is for them to gain access to social domains such as education, work, or social and cultural life.
Literature and the book business remain too homogenous in many respects. This is not just a matter of who writes (and who is encouraged to write) but of who gets published, who stands on the stage, who sits in the audience, how people are portrayed and which readers can identify with the characters in the books they are reading. Everyone has the right to discover literature and to create stories. But not everyone has an equal chance to do so, or is equally warmly invited to participate in literature.
That is why Every Story Matters wants to launch a charter for an inclusive book industry. We want to invite organizations and individuals working in the fields of literature and the promotion of reading to devote themselves actively and permanently to inclusion and diversity.
Commitment to inclusion is important, both for readers and for the book sector itself. A focus on inclusion and diversity strengthens the work on offer and represents an investment in the readership of today and the future. All those signing this charter will be committing themselves to inclusion both actively and consciously.
But it does not end there. The charter is meant to be more than a declaration of intent; it is designed as an aid to all those who are convinced that inclusion is worthwhile, and as a stimulus to the making of smart connections within the books sector. It lays out, clearly and visibly, the specific initiatives that can be undertaken.
The charter is a dynamic source of guidance that will gradually be adjusted and added to as time goes on. Every signatory can specify action to be taken over the next few years by them or their organization and will be invited to exchange detailed plans and interesting experiences.
The charter is intended to unite and inspire. It is important that, as an industry, we share an awareness that people do not have equal opportunities and that we have a genuine desire to bring about change. Only then can we truly become more inclusive. Together we can change things.
To fuel our charter we want to draw upon your needs, ideas and experiences. What would the charter ideally look like to you? Do you have any ideas or experiences you would like to see included or shared?
To ensure that the charter builds on concrete experience and can respond to practical questions and needs, we are organising an online kick-off meeting on Wednesday 17th of March from 10-12 AM (CET). Together, we will discuss the aims and objectives of the charter, how we can fulfil these collectively and what some follow-up steps might be. In short: we get down to work, together with the sector.
In 5 specific focus sessions in April & May (dedicated to publishers & booksellers; librarians & reading promotors; authors, illustrators & translators; literary organisations, festivals and projects; and teachers & partents respectively) we want to get the conversation going.
Do you want to take part? Fill in the questionnaire below.