29 August 2008 Melbourne has been declared a City of Literature by the United Nations cultural agency, joining a global network of cities set up to promote their cultural, social and economic development in fields ranging from gastronomy to music to folk art.
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced today that Melbourne had been selected as the twelfth member of the Creative Cities Network, which was founded in 2004, in recognition of its rich literary culture and history and its pool of creative talent.
The announcement coincides with the staging of the current edition of the annual Melbourne Writers Festival, which finishes on Sunday.
“Melbourne demonstrates the important role literature plays in the overall development of the city, through various multilingual editorial initiatives, the active development of related industries and the quality of educational programmes and public events reaching out to different audiences, reflecting the cultural diversity of local communities,” UNESCO said in its evaluation of the city’s bid to join the network.
The Creative Cities Network aims to give member cities a platform to present their cultural assets an opportunity to exchange and explore the know-how, information and experience of other cities, especially in maintaining and preserving cultural heritage. It encourages public-private partnerships to foster cultural development.
UNESCO said Melbourne is home to Australia’s publishing sector and to a third of all of the country’s writers, noting that the Booker Prize-winning author Peter Carey had also given his support to the city’s bid.
Melbourne is now the second City of Literature in the Creative Cities Network, following Edinburgh’s earlier selection. Berlin, Buenos Aires and Montreal have been designated as Cities of Design and Bologna, Seville and Glasgow as Cities of Music. The Colombian city of Popayán was selected for its gastronomy, Lyon for its digital media and the United States city of Santa Fé and Egypt’s Aswan for their crafts and folk art.
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