After a meeting with the writers gathered in Iaşi for FILIT and with the readers who were curious to see what their work consisted of, the translators retired to the Dosoftei Memorial House in order to try to understand how to access European funding for the translation of books into Romanian, through the Creative Europe Programme. However, when they found out that it was only publishing houses that could access such funding, in the small room in the Dosoftei House we suddenly had another debate going: how valuable is a good translator for a publishing house.
Yesterday at the Dosoftei Memorial House, starting with 13.00h, Bianca Floarea, representing the Creative Europe Bureau in Romania, was expecting to have a discussion with the publishers in Iaşi, whom she intended to encourage to submit projects of maximum 100,000 euro each for the February competition. She had prepared an entire presentation, showing them how Romania had done in the previous budget period, 2007-2013, when the name of the programme was different, and what were their chances of receiving funds for translating between three and ten books within the programme scheduled to receive 1.46 billion euro from structural funds in the next seven years. However, once in a room filled with translators, she found herself in the situation of explaining to them that the funds and the project implementation system come from Brussels, and that she cannot guarantee that publishing houses will appreciate a valuable translator and pay him/her according to merit.
“If the publisher knows about this project, the translator does, too – it’s in both their interest. This is the good part, because you can go to a publisher and tell them there are funds available for translation, for paying translators, for publishing and for promotion. A publisher can also organise book fairs, festivals, to organise meet-the-author events, to take part in various fairs throughout Europe. We can work with the publishing house you find and write the project together,” stated Bianca Floarea.
Sunia Acmambet, who translates from Romanian into Turkish, said she had heard about this project in its previous version, in the previous budget interval. According to that, a translator involved in such a project could be paid at most 9 euro per translated page, a price set by the EU, which is “a bit unfair”, in the opinion of Bianca Floarea, but it is a price that was decided after consulting the entire Romanian market. Sunia Acmambet claimed that, at the time being, if the fixed price of 9 euro per page is eliminated, there is a risk that, left at the mercy of the publishing houses, the translators will end up being paid much lower prices. “In that list, Romania was second from the bottom. Even though today the translators can negotiate, they are still at the mercy of the publishers and they may get paid as little as 2-3 euro per page. It’s even worse, because that 9 euro price was low enough, how are they supposed to live with the money the publishers are willing to pay them! Do you have a system for checking if and how well the translators are paid?”, the translator wanted to know. “The publisher wants to pay us as little as possible or even not at all,” added another translator. The “No” Bianca Floarea was about to use in order to begin her explanation was drowned by the din arising from the translators in the audience. They all took turns to express their discontent related both to the impossibility of contacting a publishing house in order to collaborate in such a project, and to the low fee that they receive in case they agree to do it.
“Be angry with Putin, but leave the Russian language out of it”
According to the call for projects, the funding coming for this programme for this project covers half of the value of the project, which must me lower than 100,000. Therefore, the publishers who want to invest a certain amount of money must match this amount out of their own pockets. However, Bianca Floarea explained to those present that, despite the differences they’ve had in the past with the publishers, in this particular funding programme the interest of the publishers is to hire good translators, who will be able to negotiate their own contracts out of the funds granted.
“Starting this year, the EU requires that translated books also include the translator’s bibliography, because this can contribute to their own promotion, which is a good thing. This is a mandatory requirement, the publishers have to do this. Moreover, starting with this budget, greater importance is given to the translator’s resume: the better he/she is, and the more experienced, the higher the chances for the publisher to get into the project,” Bianca Floarea explained.
Thus, the projects that must be submitted by 1 February have an assessment term of four months, the results will be published on 1 June and the contracts will be signed on 1 July. The implementation of the winning projects will start in earnest in September, and they will stretch over two years; meanwhile, the publishers that have been granted the funding will translate between three and ten books from one or several languages. In terms of countries in whose languages the translations can be made are all the EU member states, the accession candidates – among which, to the discontent of all those present, was included Bessarabia – and other countries from Eurasia, with Russia left out. “But Russia is not there! You left it off the list, but we should not neglect the Russian language on account of Putin, the way we did not neglect German on account of Hitler. Let us be angry with Russia, but leave Russian out of it, Russian is not the language of Putin, it is instead the language of its great classics!” remarked one of the translators in attendance.
Apart from the selection of languages, the advantage in this project, unlike in other projects using structural funds, is that 70% of the money promised by the European Commission will arrive immediately after the contract is signed, the rest being scheduled for payment at the end, rather than based on supporting documents, ensuring thus a good cash flow in the case of the publishing houses that have such issues.
by Cătălin Hopulele