After a two-year campaign, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has finally named Seattle a City of Literature in the Creative Cities Network.
Seattle has been doing its part: We’re home to a major bookseller, and a robust independent bookstore community. We’ve often been named as the most literate city in polls. And, perhaps most importantly, this is the culmination of a years-long process on the part of non-profit Seattle City of Literature, who initially put in a bid in 2013.
As a City of Literature, Seattle joins more than 20 cities around the world in the literature network, which allows it to participate in cultural exchange programs with other cities in the Creative Cities Network. Sixty-four cities joined the network this week across various categories, with Iowa City being the only other U.S. City of Literature.
Now is when the “real joyous work” can begin, as The Seattle Review of Books puts it. Local authors will have increased international visibility, city representatives will be invited to the annual Creative City Summit hosted by UNESCO, and there’s the opportunity for more education programs and workshops for members of the literary community.
“We all know that Seattle is a world-class city, but this underlines it in a new way — especially for people who care about the arts, or books, or words. It matters to everybody here that the world is looking at Seattle as a cultural leader,” Seattle City of Literature board president Bob Redmond explained to The Seattle Review of Books.
“I feel justification because I don’t think that the mission of UNESCO and this organization could be more relevant than it is right now: to build understanding through the literary arts.”
The Seattle City of Literature organization will also be seeking new board members to help the organization through the next stage of its life, according to Redmond.
“Seattle has a wonderfully rich literary history beginning with the storytelling tradition of Native Americans in this region,” Redmond said in a statement. “We found widespread support in the community for this successful effort. We look forward to working with partners in the arts community to participate in this global network.”