Edinburgh wins bid to be UNESCO's first 'City of Literature'
Following a presentation of Edinburgh’s plan for a global network of Cities of Literature to UNESCO in Paris yesterday, 13th October, it was announced by the Assistant Director-General of Culture at UNESCO, Mr Mounir Bouchenaki, that the plan will be officially endorsed by UNESCO and that Scotland’s capital city Edinburgh is to be the first recipient of the new title.
At an official ceremony, the Scottish Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport presented to the British ambassador to UNESCO a specially produced two-volume dossier outlining the concept of Cities of Literature and Edinburgh’s case to become the inaugural city. The Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koichiro Matsuura, spoke of the importance of the Global Alliance of Creative Cities into which programme the new initiative will fit, and the British Ambassador to UNESCO outlined a plan to inject £50,000 into the costs of UNESCO administering the new Creative Cities scheme.
After the ceremony, Mr Bouchenaki confirmed that UNESCO has ratified the scheme, with Edinburgh forging ahead to develop the network of Cities of Literature.. Therefore Edinburgh as the first UNESCO City of Literature is now leading a global enterprise.
Gavin Wallace, Head of Literature at the Scottish Arts Council, who provided vital seed funding for the bid, said: ‘Securing the UNESCO designation is a triumphant symbol of the huge success story of Literature in Scotland, and a new beginning in our responsibility to ensure that the benefits of that success will be available to all. It is a thrilling outcome, and also a testament to the strength, unity and aspiration of a nation’s literature community working in partnership.’
Patricia Ferguson, Scottish Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, said: ‘I am absolutely delighted that Edinburgh has been recognised as UNESCO’s first City of Literature. This is a wonderful achievement for Scotland and recognises out position as a country of literary excellence.’
James Boyle, chair of the Edinburgh City of Literature project, said: ‘Scotland achieved this through a nationwide partnership, and we managed to persuade the rest of the world to follow us. Now we have to live up to the obligations that this great honour brings. Lets find a creative way of doing that.’
Edinburgh’s City of Literature bid was generated and developed by the Scottish literary and publishing community, and identifies Edinburgh as a literary gateway to Scotland. Seed-funded by the Scottish Arts Council, the concept is formally backed by the Scottish Executive and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, The City of Edinburgh Council, the National Library, the University of Edinburgh and many other city agencies who have made covenants in support of the project.
Notes to editors
1. The Edinburgh City of Literature website is at www.cityofliterature.com
2. Pictures from the reception at UNESCO in Paris are available from Colman Getty PR on 0131 477 7950/07970 783 213.
3. Background information, including a list of FAQs, is also available from Colman Getty PR.
Issued by: Scottish Arts Council