Since the war in Ukraine began on February 24, Poland’s Fundacja Powszechnego Czytania (Universal Reading Foundation) has been leading an international effort to get books into the hands of Ukrainian refugee children in Poland and support Ukrainian publishers, whose businesses have been decimated by the war. This week, the Foundation announced the recipients of its grant application process: 51 Ukrainian publishers received a total of $150,000 from funds donated by individuals, publishers, and businesses around the world.
Polish First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda has lent her support to the effort. In a release from the Foundation she said, “At the moment, the most important thing for Ukrainians is to survive and, after the war is over, to rebuild their homeland. If the aid that is now coming to them is wide enough, they will find it easier to overcome the difficulties to raise their country from ruins.”
The Foundation grant recipients included the Old Lion Publishing House, a Lviv publisher that produces about 130 children’s books a year; Irbis Comics, a Kyiv-based publisher of graphic novels and comics for children and adults; and Vivat, Ukraine’s second-largest publisher, based in the devastated city of Kharkiv. “The scale of applications shows how great the need is,” said Oleksandr Afonin director of the Association of Ukrainian Publishers and Booksellers. Publishers will use the funds for a range of purposes including rebuilding operations and paying staff.
Expressing gratitude for the outpouring of support from around the world, Foundation director Maria Deskur said that the amount that’s been distributed in grants is only “a tiny bit in the ocean of needs” and that support will continue to ensure that publishers can survive the war and the reconstruction of their country.
“The first stage of great emotional support is obviously behind us. Now further systemic help will be extremely important,” added Robert Piaskowski, the Plenipotentiary of the President of Cracow for Culture. “We are all aware that the survival of the Ukrainian publishing industry will be fundamental for the strength of that democracy.”
Grant program partners include KBF (operator of the UNESCCO Krakow City of Literature program), the Polish Book Chamber, and the Association of Ukrainian Publishers and Booksellers, as well as the First Lady of the Republic of Poland. In addition to financial aid, Ukrainian publishers received pro bono services through the grants, including legal aid from Barembruch and Partners law firm of Warsaw, and professional services from international accountants Soltax, Polish communications firm Selectivv, and Warsaw-based LoveBrandsGroup agency.