‘I’m such a clever, gifted Nymph. I want to do more than just donate money to good causes,’ Peirene muses. She is lying on the sofa in the office, twirling her hair. I’m sitting at the desk in front of my computer studying the company’s accounts. We recently learned that we won’t receive an EU grant in 2016 – indeed, no UK publisher will. Which means that keeping our cash flow under control will be an even more precarious balancing act than usual.
‘We’ve now been supporting the Maya Centre for over three years,’ Peirene continues in the background. ‘I wonder if it is time to move on.’ I’m trying to ignore the Nymph’s chatter. Looking through forecast figures for 2016 with a realistic eye requires concentration. Peirene, however, is unperturbed by my silence. ‘I would like to find a new charity. A charity that does important work with refugees just like the Maya Centre – but one that also needs my expertise.’
I find it hard to concentrate while Peirene talks. Impatiently I turn around. ‘Your expertise in what precisely? As a chatter box?’
Peirene stops twirling her hair, sits up straight and glares at me. ‘You just stay glued to your numbers. I will go out and make myself useful.’
I heave a sigh of relief as the Nymph closes the door behind her. Finally the office is quite.
A few days later Peirene invites me to join her at a meeting with Almir Koldzic and Tim Finch from Counterpoints Arts, a charity that supports and promotes the arts by and about refugees. They run projects with individual artists but also with big art organisations such as the British Museum. Their aim is to use the creative arts to inspire social change and enhance the cultural integration of refugees.
Both the Nymph and I leave the meeting inspired. Almir and Tim are excited to collaborate with a publisher. They would like us to attend their conference planning next year’s Refugee Week, take part in a weekend on art & activism and help shape a literature event around the theme of migration in collaboration with Royal Holloway University.
‘Thank you for dragging me away from the spreadsheet,’ I admit as we are heading back to Peirene HQ.
‘That’s quite all right.’ Peirene is obviously delighted with herself, and excited that Counterpoints Arts can make use of her skills. Her cheeks glow with a lovely red shimmer. ‘And truth to tell, I’m so pleased that you are diligent with our accounts. After all, we can only support others if we keep our own budget in order.’
Image by Maria Elena.