Monday, May 21, 2012

Kiwi writers' time to shine 21/05/2012

The Kiwi publishing industry is gearing up for its equivalent of the Rugby World Cup, backed by a host of other professions keen to make the most of an unprecedented opportunity to showcase New Zealand writers.
New Zealand is the guest country of honour at this year's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest gathering of what are now known as "content professionals".
The enormous expo, designed to facilitate the trading of foreign language and editorial rights between publishing, film, television, gaming and digital content companies around the globe, selects a guest country each year. The previous guest was Iceland.
New Zealand had been aiming for the 2014 slot, but due to changes at the German end, this year became available and quick decisions had to be made.
Publishing Association of New Zealand president Kevin Chapman says Culture Minister Chris Findlayson made the "big call", officially signing the deal in June last year and stumping up an initial $1.8 million to get the project rolling.
Now with $5m of state backing, a group of government, business, academic and cultural organisations has galvanised to put the best possible "New Zealand Inc" face on the year-long programme, which culminates with the fair itself in October.
"It's akin to the Rugby World Cup and the span of opportunities that gave New Zealand to showcase a whole range of things," said Jules Annear, senior manager at Education New Zealand which aims to promote the Kiwi export education sector.
But unlike the World Cup, where the commercial opportunities were arguably more obvious, the Frankfurt guest of honour status is focused on the country's cultural identity.
Germans have a fascination for New Zealand's indigenous culture anyway, and fair organisers were attracted by New Zealand's oral and visual storytelling traditions, director Juergen Boos said on a visit last week. 
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