In 2004, UNESCO announced the very first member to the Creative Cities Network
- an initiative that connects cities keen on cultural, economic and social development.
City categories include: literature, film, music, crafts and gastronomy. The list of criteria for a city to be considered in the literature category includes:
- Quality, quantity and diversity of editorial initiatives and publishing houses;
- Quality and quantity of educational programmes focusing on domestic or foreign literature in primary and secondary schools as well as universities;
- Urban environment in which literature, drama and/or poetry play an integral role;
- Experience in hosting literary events and festivals aiming at promoting domestic and foreign literature;
- Libraries, bookstores and public or private cultural centres dedicated to the preservation, promotion and dissemination of domestic and foreign literature;
- Active effort by the publishing sector to translate literary works from diverse national languages and foreign literature;
- Active involvement of media, including new media, in promoting literature and strengthening the market for literary products.
Edinburgh was the deserved recipient of the first City of Literature, and Melbourne, Australia and Iowa City, USA, soon followed.
How thrilling to see cities honoured in this way, and embracing the need for global literary connectivity.
I'm also very proud my home town of Melbourne is amongst those with this honour... and it's no wonder. According to The Age, people in the state of Victorian read more books, newspapers and magazines than any other state. In 2003/04, an astounding 43% of total Australian book sales were from Victorian-based publishers and the state boasts one bookshop for every 307 Victorians.
Makes you want to get a book off the shelf, does it not? While you're there, read to your kids.