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Canadian Heritage wants Canada’s Frankfurt Guest of Honour participation to be postponed to 2021

© Frankfurter Buchmesse

While Canada currently remains the Guest of Honour country for this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, a representative from the Department of Canadian Heritage says that, ideally, the program will be postponed to 2021.

In a press conference on May 28, Juergen Boos, director of the Frankfurt Book Fair, confirmed that Frankfurter Buchmesse is working closely with Canadian Heritage to develop a “very strong virtual presentation” for the event and associated cultural presentations in light of current international travel restrictions and safety concerns around COVID-19.

Q&Q spoke to a representative from Canadian Heritage about its discussions with Frankfurt.

Is there a timeline you are working toward, and what are the factors that are determining this decision?
Canada supports the Frankfurter Buchmesse’s decision to change the 2020 Book Fair and remains committed to supporting it in this endeavour. However, Canada would like its participation as a Guest of Honour to be postponed until 2021.

In a postponement scenario, Canada would be well-positioned to showcase its literary creations, make them better known to Germans and other readers, and promote the sale and translation of Canadian books in German and international markets.

Along with the Frankfurter Buchmesse, Canada is currently in talks with the next three Guest of Honour countries – Spain, Slovenia, and Italy – to discuss their interest in a possible postponement. Canada appreciates their openness in this regard.

Does this decision take into consideration the fact that there is still officially a travel advisory. Is there an expectation that this will be lifted by October?
The Government of Canada’s priority is to ensure the health and safety of people across Canada and around the world. We continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic situation and future decisions on travel will be based on the advice of public health experts.

If an in-person program isn’t possible, will you look toward a virtual program?
The health and safety of all Canadians is of the utmost importance to the Government of Canada. With that in mind, our presence at the 2020 Frankfurt Book Fair would be notably focused on participating in virtual activities to promote the sales of Canadian translated works in the German market.