Application to become UNESCO City Of Literature moves forward
Published: 11 July 2019
Exeter has been successful in progressing through the first phase of a process to become a UNESCO City of Literature. The news comes in the week that Exeter unveiled its Cultural Strategy.
Only four UK cities can gain endorsement from UNESCO’s UK Commission to join the Creative Cities Network and Exeter was one of these. The city’s application now goes into an international competitive process and we will hear the verdict in November 2019.
The bid, led by Exeter City Council, is a partnership between: Exeter City Council, Exeter Culture, The University of Exeter, Devon County Council, Libraries Unlimited, Literature Works, Exeter Cathedral and Exeter Canal and Quay Trust. Literature Works, the literature development agency for south-west England, wrote the bid on behalf of the steering group.
If the city is successful in its application it will enable Exeter to use the prestigious title of City of Literature and produce a four-year cultural programme of activity for the communities of Exeter and the region. The network of UNESCO’s Creative Cities will also enable Exeter to develop international partnerships and opportunities for the benefit of its communities and the cultural sector. Discussions and plans are already in place for lottery funding applications to support this. The bid has been nationally endorsed by Arts Council England, The British Council and MP for Exeter, Ben Bradshaw.
Cllr Rachel Sutton, Lead Councillor for Climate and Culture, said: “Exeter has a strong track record of supporting the arts, and spends three times the national average amount per head per week and on the day that we launched the city's Cultural Strategy, I am delighted that our application to become UNESCO City of Literature has been chosen as one of four from across the UK to go forward for consideration by UNESCO. There is still a long way to go until we know if we have been successful but this is exciting news.”
The vision for the programme is for Exeter and the wider region to be a destination for writers and a city of readers. The programme aims to engage a range of communities in the creation and appreciation of wide-ranging works, both existing and new, and develop a love of reading.
At the heart of the application is a major focus on how reading, stories and activities connected to storytelling can have an impact upon wellbeing. Exeter’s UNESCO City of Literature will draw on the power of literature and words to pursue a set of wellbeing goals for Exeter, Devon and the surrounding region.