Prince Claus Fund

The first call for proposals drew a resounding response. Now the Prince Claus Fund, through its Cultural Emergency Response (CER) programme and the Whiting Foundation announce a second 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’re doing
Through the first round of this call in 2017, CER and Whiting helped stewards around the world to prevent and minimize loss by funding fourteen varied projects. In Ecuador, where the library collection of the monastery of San Augustin was under threat from earthquake damage and humidity, the program funded local efforts to restore, digitize, and safely store this long-hidden trove of documents. In Nigeria, where ancient manuscripts were threatened by encroaching militants, it helped to establish a manuscript conservation laboratory. And in Egypt, where inscriptions in the necropolis of Al-Salamuni were being vandalized, it supported visual documentation to record them.

We received an overwhelming number of applications, illustrating a pressing need for support. The second round will continue to facilitate the vital work of restoring 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.

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