Cities of Literature: A Global Meetup
Melbourne is a City of Literature! (And so is Edinburgh, Iowa City, Dublin, Norwich, Kraków, and Reykjavík!) But what does that mean? What makes these cities literary destinations, and what approaches do these difference cities take to supporting their local creative scenes?
About the Cities of Literature
Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature
Representative: Ali Bowden, Director of the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust
Edinburgh is the founding city in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, and having devised the City of Literature designation for UNESCO it became the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature in 2004 and a year later the City of Literature Trust was established. It is an independent charity which works to promote literary Edinburgh, champion Scotland’s literature and develop international literary partnerships. We facilitate, animate and enable organisations and individuals to work together to promote literature, writing and reading to as wide an audience as possible through reading campaigns, projects and events.
Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature
Representative: John Kenyon, Executive Director, Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature
The Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organisation is an independent non-profit that oversees the designation on behalf of the city. Supported by partners such as the City of Iowa City and the University of Iowa, the organisation seeks to promote the area’s literary assets through marketing and advocacy, and seeks to enhance the literary culture through targeted programming designed to fill identified gaps. Its mission states that the organisation will “celebrate and support literature on a local, regional, national, and international level, connecting readers and writers through the power of story.”
Norwich UNESCO City of Literature
Representative: Chris Gribble, Chief Executive, Writers’ Centre Norwich
Writers’ Centre Norwich is a literary organisation committed to exploring the artistic and social powers of creative writing and reading. Working with writers and communities in the East of England, nationally and internationally, WCN led the bid for Norwich to become England’s first UNESCO City of Literature in 2012. At the heart of our UNESCO bid was the creation of a new space for literature, literary translation and experiment in literary arts, the National Centre for Writing. We are half way through this capital project and the NCW will open in the centre of Norwich in October 2016.
Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature
Representative: Kristín Viðarsdóttir, Project Manager Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature
Reykjavik became a UNESCO City of Literature in August 2011. The City of Literature office is run by Reykjavik City’s Department of Culture and Tourism. It has two full time staff members and also employs freelance employees. Head of the board is the writer Sjón. The office organises literary events and programs for people of all ages, either on its ownor in cooperation with others. Examples are the mapping of Reykjavik’s literary history, literary walking tours and electronic walks, events with international writers, workshops and partaking in cultural city festivals. It heads the Reykjavik Reads Festival, which is its biggest project.
Krakow UNESCO City of Literature
Representative: Robert Piaskowski, Chief Executive of the Krakow UNESCO City of Literature Program
The Krakow Festival Office was the leading cultural institution coordinating the bid for the UNESCO City of Literature title, which the city earned in October 2013. The Office is very active in the literature sector, organizing the Joseph Conrad as well as Czesław Miłosz Festival in Krakow, numerous city-wide initiatives, such as the Second Life of the Book – a free book exchange pro-gram – or Krakow’s virtual library, where anyone can download a select book or magazine by scanning the respective QR code, as well as public campaigns that promote reading and the book market.
Dublin UNESCO City of Literature
Representative: Jane Alger, Director, Dublin UNESCO City of Literature
The Office of Dublin UNESCO City of Literature was set up in 2010 following Dublin’s designation with the objectives of branding Dublin as a literary city; liaising internationally with other cities of Literature and members of the Creative Cities Network; promoting Dublin and Irish writers and writing locally, nationally and internationally; nurturing emerging writers and promoting reading for all ages. Activities include running the annual month long Dublin: One City One Book festival; Bram Stoker festival; encouraging literary strands to city festivals as diverse as Tall Ships and Bloom Garden festival. Other programmes and activities include the National Emerging Writer programme, Citywide Reading for children, Words on the Street –European Literature Night, Literary Ambassador hotels and many more as well as international activities related to membership of the Creative Cities Network.
Melbourne UNESCO City of Literature
Representative:Michael Williams, Director of The Wheeler Centre
In 2008 Melbourne was the second city in the world to receive designation as a City of Literature within UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network. It is a designation recognising Melbourne’s literary strengths across diverse criteria:Melbourne is home to the Melbourne Writers’ Festival, the Emerging Writers’ Festival, significant literary awards, multi-national and independent publishers, while the State Library of Victoria is the state’s oldest cultural institution and the oldest public library in Australia, and the Wheeler Centre and its residents serve as a hub for activities related to writing and literature.
Wheeler Centre: wheelercentre.com