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Dunedin submits UNESCO City of Literature bid

Dunedin submits UNESCO City of Literature bid

Dunedin, 19 March 2014 – Mayor Dave Cull today formally sent Dunedin’s application to become a city of literature to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on behalf of the city.

UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network aims to promote cultural diversity and sustainable urban development through the creative economy in cities around the world, but only one city in each country will be recognized as a Creative City of Literature.

Mr Cull says a steering committee and an advisory board of writers, librarians and academics from a range of Dunedin’s institutions have been feverishly collaborating over the last six months to complete the bid which highlights Dunedin’s rich literary heritage.

“I’m inspired by this bid. Dunedin has been, and still is, home to many of New Zealand’s well known writers, poets and playwrights, so it should be New Zealand’s City of Literature. Thomas Bracken, who wrote New Zealand’s national anthem, Charles Brasch, founder of the country’s foremost literary journal, internationally acclaimed writers Janet Frame and James K. Baxter and current and former poet laureates Vincent O’Sullivan, Hone Tuwhare, Brian Turner and Cilla McQueen have all called Dunedin home.”

Six existing Cities of Literature have all supported Dunedin’s bid including Iowa City, Reykjavik, Dublin, Melbourne, Norwich and Edinburgh.

City of Literature bid coordinator, Liz Knowles, says the bid is an exciting opportunity to showcase Dunedin’s literature on a global platform and to show the wider city, its arts and culture to the world.

“To become a UNESCO designated City of Literature, a city has to bring together its entire literary community and secure support from council, government and its national bodies. To be successful we have to highlight the quality, quantity and diversity of the city’s publishing, the quality of our literary educational programmes, and our ability to preserve, promote and disseminate literature through our libraries, bookstores, new media and collections.”

Mr Cull says being named a City of Literature would be a fantastic acknowledgement of the city’s literary heritage and dynamic creative communities, and add another string to its bow as it strives to become one of the best small cities in the world.

The bid document will now be assessed by UNESCO over the coming months, with additional information to be provided if requested and the outcome of the bid will be announced in November.


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