THE CULTURAL EMERGENCY RESPONSE PROGRAM
Since its founding in 1996, the Prince Claus Fund has supported artists and cultural organizations particularly in areas where culture is repressed or resources for cultural expression are scarce. It offers annual awards that honor excellence and artistic achievement, supports innovative cultural projects that contribute to development and extends travel grants that facilitate culturally enriching exchanges. The Fund is a networking organization that actively seeks cultural collaborations.
The Cultural Emergency Response program
Through its Cultural Emergency Response (CER) program, the Fund provides ‘first aid’ where cultural heritage is damaged or threatened by natural or man-made disasters. TEFAF has been an active partner of the CER program since 2008. TEFAF’s contributions have helped to restore rare documents affected by the flooding of a unique Turkish library, enabled the excavation of holy relics from an ancient monastery in Burma destroyed in a mudslide, saved ancient rock art from destruction by armed rebels in Niger and contributed to strengthening a 17th century Nepalese temple to withstand earthquakes, as well as other projects.
People need art
According to the Prince Claus Fund’s Director Joumana El Zein Khoury: “Support for cultural expression and protecting cultural heritage are more important now than ever. The world is changing very fast and people need art to help them understand and deal with those changes. They need reminders of their past that give meaning to identity. But everywhere there are regimes that want to control expression and people who want to obliterate the past. TEFAF understands the essential importance of art. We greatly appreciate its support and collaboration.”
Looking back and moving forward
The Fund was originally a gift from the Dutch government to Prince Claus, husband to Queen Beatrix, in recognition of his diplomatic efforts and his lifelong belief in the quality and importance of culture in all its forms all over the world. In its first 20 years, the Fund presented awards to 222 outstanding cultural achievers, supported nearly 2,100 cultural initiatives and responded quickly to more than 250 emergency situations of endangered cultural heritage.
The Prince Claus Fund currently receives support from the Dutch Foreign Ministry
, the Dutch Postcode Lottery
, and individual and institutional donors like TEFAF, who believe in its mission and vision.
SAVING HERITAGE TOGETHER: A PRICELESS LIBRARY IN ECUADOR
The Library of the San Augustin Monastery in Quito, Ecuador, holds over 20,000 priceless rare books, illuminated manuscripts, first prints and publications, some dating back to the 15th century, many written in ancient or lost languages. It houses the archive of the San Augustin order and important documentation of the colonisation of the Americas as well as religious and cultural practices prior to the Spanish conquest. The collection is the only library in the Americas housed in its original building and was declared a ‘memory of the world’ by the National Institute of Patrimony (NIPC).
The building and its contents were in poor shape when a major earthquake struck in April 2016. The powerful quake left 661 people dead and more than 27,000 injured. Although Quito was not significantly affected, years of neglect made the Library of San Augustin and its contents especially vulnerable. The earthquake caused major damage to the ceilings, walls and shelves, leading to severe leaks and high levels of humidity. The building and its collection were at great risk of being lost forever.
Time was the Library’s biggest enemy. The region is earthquake sensitive and another shock would be a fatal blow to the collection. Meanwhile, humidity accelerated the deterioration process, making the books and manuscripts more and more fragile.
Kick-starting the rehabilitation of the Library of the San Augustin Monastery has already had several very important results: not only is it ensuring that an irreplaceable record of culture and history is preserved, it has also begun to raise local and international awareness about the Library, which had remained little known for years. The international involvement of the Prince Claus Fund and TEFAF has added to the prestige of the project, attracting local funders to contribute to longer-term improvements. As a result, local pride is helping to ensure the sustainability of the collection, further anchoring it in Ecuador and making it accessible for generations to come.