The new board, led by Dolors Oller as President and Carme Arenas as General Secretary, is determined to maintain the organisation’s prestige and make its presence in literary and solidarity forums more visible, starting a modernisation process that permits PEN Català to take on new challenges on the national and international sphere. The Catalan PEN Centre is renamed PEN Català, just as the rest of the PEN centres have started to do around the world, namely the most active and modern ones.
The main item on the agenda in 2003 is the celebration of the organisation’s 80th anniversary with an event organised in the gardens of the Ateneu Barcelonès, in which homage will be paid to all the writers that have been part of PEN’s several boards. There is special recognition of PEN Català’s previous president, Jordi Sarsanedas: the only one to receive the organisation’s golden pin. The anniversary coincides with the inauguration of the new headquarters on the fifth floor of the Ateneu Barcelonès, which has been completely refurbished. The new statutes of the organisation are also approved, modernised and more relevant to the new times. A new website is also launched. Another important event during this time is the iinclusion of PEN Català’s documental collection in the Biblioteca de Catalunya (Library of Catalonia), making it accessible to the public, thanks to its classification.
The committees continue their work. The Writers Committee, following its line of work recovering writers’ memoirs and under the coordination of Maria Barbal, pay homage to Concepció Maluquer. The Writers in Prison Committee celebrates the Day of the Imprisoned Writer with the distinguished journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, who would be murdered a few years later for her harsh criticism of the atrocities committed in Chechnya. That first visit would mark the beginning of an intense and productive relationship between Politkovskaya and PEN Català. The following year, she returned to Barcelona, where PEN had invited her to participate in the Universal Forum of Cultures in Barcelona, with a dialogue named “El valor de la paraula” (“The value of words”). It was here, during the celebration of the Day of the Imprisoned Writer in 2003, that the tradition of having a renowned artist produce a commemorative poster started. The first one was designed by Antoni Tàpies and the posters continue to be produced by renowned artists such as Frederic Amat (2004); Ràfols Casamada (2005); Perejaume (2006); Josep Maria Guinovart (2007), Jaume Plensa (2008), Eulàlia Valldosera (2009), Narcís Comadira (2010), Joan Fontcuberta (2011), Alfons Borrell (2012), Ignasi Aballí (2014), Francesc Abad (2015) and Manel Esclusa (2016).
Of particular importance was the preparation of the dialogue “The value of words”, commissioned by the Universal Forum of Cultures to PEN International in 2004, directed by Carles Torner and coordinated by Carme Arenas. Its organization meant the challenge of arranging a new International Meeting in Barcelona. Over five days, writers representing five continents, such as Salman Rushdie, Eugene Schoulgin, Hélene Dorion, Frances Fitz Gerald, Faraj Bayrakdar, Remi Raji, Waheed Warasta, Homero Aridjis, and Catalans such as Jordi Sarsanedas, Francesc Parcerisas and Arnau Pons, amongst others, attended both the events relating to the dialogue and meetings of the Imprisoned Writers Committee. Once more Barcelona, through PEN Català, became the world capital of the defence of linguistic and human rights. Before the delivery and celebration of the dialogue, a series of events, known as pre-forum events, took place which served to prepare the final dialogue. One event was held in Mexico City, where the “Antiterrorism, writers and freedom of speech” report was presented, as well as other events in London, New York, Istanbul and Ottawa. Under the title “Words and Future”, other similar events were held in Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca and Valencia, accompanied by a poster by the poet and painter Narcís Comadira, other similar events were held in Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca and Valencia.