CER programme for documentary heritage under threat

The previous calls for proposals in 2017 and 2018 drew a resounding response. Now the Prince Claus Fund, through its Cultural Emergency Response (CER) programme and the Whiting Foundation announce a third round of the Open Call for First Aid to Documentary Heritage under Threat. We invite proposals for projects in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean to safeguard documentary heritage that is acutely threatened by recent conflict or other disaster, whether natural or man-made.

What’s at stake

Manuscripts, rare books, archives, tablets, inscriptions, and other kinds of written records are sometimes the only form in which the past survives. Whether they are in monasteries, private libraries or forgotten tombs, they are objects of historical importance and deep local meaning. They are also especially fragile, susceptible to fire, insects, water and humidity – and are sometimes singled out for deliberate destruction by those afraid of their symbolic power. When there is an earthquake, a flood, or an armed attack, the heritage may be lost forever.

What we are doing

Through the two previous rounds of this call, the Prince Claus Fund and Whiting Foundation supported stewards around the world to prevent and minimize loss of documentary heritage by funding 26 projects. They responded to different kinds of threats, urgently safeguarding a wide variety of collections and inscriptions. In the Marshall Islands, we supported the Alele Museum to digitize and improve the storage conditions of an important archive and helped to prepare for the consequences of climate change. In Palestine, where the ancient manuscripts of the Great Omari Mosque were threatened by the ongoing conflict, staff was trained in preservation and digitization of the collection and how to carry out urgent rescue. In Ecuador, where the library collection of the monastery of Santo Domingo suffered from earthquake damage and humidity, we empowered local efforts for the emergency cleaning and preservation of the collection and the recovery of the library. And in Colombia, we funded the visual documentation and dissemination of pre-Hispanic inscriptions threatened by active mining.

We received an overwhelming number of applications from more than 70 different countries over the past two years, illustrating a pressing need for support. Nevertheless, there are still countries we have not reached during previous cycles. We therefore strongly encourage applicants from South-East Asia, Central Asia, Central Africa, South America and the Caribbean to apply. However, we consider applications from all over Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe.

This third round will continue to expand the scope of this initiative and facilitate the vital work of safeguarding physical objects and making the information they carry accessible to a wider public for generations to come. In doing so, we hope to contribute to the appreciation of cultural achievement and historical diversity and foster the worldwide dissemination of forgotten or endangered stories.

For details on Eligibility, Selection Criteria, and how to APPLY please see the document below. For other inquiries, please contact cer@princeclausfund.nl.


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