Money to read


A project by mmmm… in collaboration with the Embassy of Spain in Canberra and the National Library of Australia on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes.


Being an English writer, probably most people in Australia know that this year marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, but how many Australians would know that this year is the 400th anniversary of the death of another writer of equal universal dimension, the Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, author of "Don Quixote"? And how many would know that April 23rd was chosen as International Book Day because it is traditionally accepted that both Shakespeare and Cervantes died on the very same day, April 23rd 1616? Well, such is the international and universal relevance of these authors that lived in the same period although they never met.

Both the UK and Spain are immersed this year in the celebration of this centenary, in their own countries and abroad. Spain has also created its own commission for a program of cultural activities related to the anniversary:

Here in Australia, the Embassy of Spain in Canberra has chosen a very special and alternative way of celebrating this centenary: a project of the Spanish art group mmmm… called Money to Read, a call for a grant of 1,500 AUD for an Australian citizen or permanent resident in Australia to read (in silence) the novel "Don Quixote" in its English translation in the National Library of Australia in Canberra during a period of three to four weeks.

Why paying to read "Don Quixote"? "Don Quixote" is one of those universal books that everybody has heard about (Don Quixote and the windmills or Don Quixote and Sancho have jumped out of the book to become part or the reality of our collective unconscious) and not many people have read (like "The Capital" by Karl Marx or "The Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith). So what better way to celebrate this anniversary than to have someone actually read the book from beginning to end? It is a thought provoking way of drawing attention to the importance of reading our universal classics, or reading in general, and the lack of it.

So the Embassy of Spain in Canberra in collaboration with the National Library of Australia and mmmm... are happy to launch this call for a grant to read "Don Quixote" to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of Cervantes.

  • Applications open:  Wednesday, July 20th 2016
  • Applications close: Thursday, September 22th 2016
  • Selection process: Monday, September 26th – Friday, October 14th 2016
  • Final notification to applicants: Monday, October 17th 2016
  • Reading of Don Quixote: Friday, November 18th – Monday, December 12th 2016

Applications must be filled in and submitted through this online form.

Once all of the applications have been received, mmmm... and the Embassy of Spain in Canberra will proceed to do the selection based on the applicant’s financial resources, trustworthiness, and the reasons addressed by the applicant to read "Don Quixote".

See here the terms and conditions of this call.

mmmm… is a collaboration between Emilio Alarcón, Alberto Alarcón, Ciro Márquez and Eva Salmerón, who have been creating projects for public spaces since 1998 in Spain. Check for more information.