Hay Festival Announces Its ‘Europa28’ Program as a Hybrid

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Amid Europe’s rising coronavirus numbers, Hay Festival organizers include five live events in Croatia in early October.

At Hay Festival Segovia launch events this week, Rod Carlos and P Martin Sanchez are seen onstage in the program. Organizers say use of venues is limited to 30 percent. Image: Hay Festival, Lisbeth Sales

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Masks Mandatory
The Hay Festival network of international fairs has begun launching pre-festival events in its 15th Hay Festival Segovia iteration (September 17 to 20) in Spain, which is leading new levels of coronavirus concerns in Europe.

Alyssa McMurtry has reported for the Anadolu Agency that Spain saw some 27,000 new cases over the weekend, reaching a 14-day total of 116,464 testing positive in the what Lionel Laurent reports at Bloomberg is the first European country to reach more than 500,000 cases total.

Nevertheless, with a plan for what we’ve reported the Hay calls a “highly controlled and careful form”—said to include using venues to only 30-percent capacity—the effort reportedly is going forward.

And today (September 15), the Hay is announcing a hybrid physical-and-digital program for its Hay Festival Europs28 with “28 inspiring women writers,  journalists, artists, scientists, and entrepreneurs, one from each European Union country”—plus the Brexit-negotiating UK in which the Hay Festival is based, of course.

Intended to run October 6 to 9, the program is physically centered in Rijeka, Croatia, and initial media messaging from the Hay this time mentions nothing about the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic that’s still very much ongoing and particularly in new late-summer surges in parts of Europe. While the Segovia event announced various precautions that would be attempted, the Croatian event next month is announcing five live events launching the program in Zagreb and Rijeka on October 6 and 7.

When Publishing Perspectives asked the Hay offices about the lack of any announcement of spread-mitigation efforts, we received a statement. The always-cordial staff there said that they’d focused in English-language press materials on the event, leaving spread-prevention efforts to local-language communications.

Here is the text provided to us on request about the potential dangers of live events:

“The festival’s five live sessions in Zagreb and Rijeka will follow strict hygiene and distancing protocols in accordance with government guidelines including reduced capacity; socially-distanced venues; mandatory mask-wearing; no physical tickets (e-tickets only for assigned seating); distanced queuing; and alcoholic gel dispensers.

“And we remain in constant contact with our Croatian partners–the European Festival of the Short Story and European Capital of Culture Rijeka2020–to ensure we keep our audience safe.”

That monitoring of the situation clearly is important. Mark Thomas at the Dubrovnik Times today is reporting 151 new cases of COVID-19 registered in the last 24 hours. Of 2,107 cases, 299 are in hospital, 22 on ventilators. In its 6:22 a.m. ET update (1022 GMT), the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center cites 13,749 infections in Croatia’s population of 4 million, with 230 deaths to date. Croatia’s neighbor Slovenia has added Croatia to its quarantine list.

And Anja Vladisavljevic writes in BalkanInsight that “each day brings a new record high of confirmed cases, a large proportion of them on Croatia’s Adriatic coast.”

Fuentes: ‘A Space Beyond’

An outdoor Hay Festival Segovia launch event this week. Image: Hay Festival, Javier Segovia

The planned programming, of course, uses the 28 writers from the anthology as speakers in a clearly worthwhile initiative “to provide a space beyond Europe’s traditional centers of power in which ideas for Europe’s future can be shared and discussed, amplifying the voices of women. The project began earlier this year with the publication of Hay Festival Europa28: Visions for the Future in the UK, Spain and Croatia, a collection of their work that forms the basis of the upcoming sessions.”

In a prepared statement, Cristina Fuentes La Roche, familiar to Publishing Perspectives readers as the director of the Hay’s international programming, says that in “these challenging times,” the program is being developed as “a free platform for discussing and engaging with ideas for tomorrow.

“While the project aims to pull insights from the most notable experts and practitioners in their fields, it also seeks to highlight the persistently diminished and under-represented contribution of women in these areas.”

Those live events are expected to feature:

  • Bosnian poet Asja Bakić
  • Irish actress Lisa Dwan
  • Slovenian philosopher Renata Salecl
  • Czech director, activist, and journalist Apolena Rychlikova
  • Swedish writer Karolina Ramqvist
  • Finnish playwright Saara Turunen
  • Danish author and activist Janne Teller

Otherwise, the program comprises online panel discussions; lectures; a screening of The Limits of Work, a documentary by Czech filmmaker Apolena Rychlikova; and Polish director Bronka Nowicka with her film series Screening of Narratives.

In addition, the digital offer will include previous Hay moments.

Full details about the Europa28 program, its participating speakers, all the events, and background can be found here.

The program is offered free of charge, and registration availability is here.

A promotional video about the program is here:


More from Publishing Perspectives on the Hay Festival is here, and more on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here and at the CORONAVIRUS tab at the top of each page of our site.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.

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