Wrocław becomes UNESCO City of Literature!

For years, literature has been one of the strongest pillars of Wrocław, and this October is a month of unique success and amazing news in this domain. Last night, Wrocław was accepted into the UNESCO Creative Cities Network and became a UNESCO City of Literature. For several weeks now, Wrocław residents has been celebrating the Nobel Prize in Literature awarded to Olga Tokarczuk, and now they have a new reason to be proud and certain that in their city, literature and readership promotion are very important and continue to develop.

In spring this year, Mayor of Wrocław Jacek Sutryk decided to apply to UNESCO Creative Cities Network. The document thanks to which Wrocław became a UNESCO City of Literature was developed by the team of Wrocław Literature House. And this very institution, directed by Irek Grin, now became also the operator of the programme.

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network programme was established in 2004 to support economic, social and cultural development of cities based on the principles of long-term and sustainable development. It aims at enhancing the achievements and aspirations of cities which want to share their ideas, experiences and best practices for sustainable cultural, social and economic development. They can implement those ideas in numerous creative fields – from literature, film, music, crafts and folk art, design, using the development of digital art and media, to even gastronomy.

The first Polish UNESCO City of Literature is Kraków, designated in 2013 as the first Polish representative in the network. Wrocław joins this prestigious group as the second Polish literary city, together with 66 cities from around the world accepted into the Network this year – altogether there are 246 cities in the Network. Other new Cities of Literature are: Angouleme (France), Beirut (Lebanon), Exeter (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), Kuhmo (Finland), Lahore (Pakistan), Leeuwarden (Netherlands), Nanjing (China), Odessa (Ukraine), Slemani (Iraq) and Wonju (Republic of Korea).

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay commented on the designations: "these cities, each in its way, make culture the pillar, not an accessory, of their strategy.This favours political and social innovation and is particularly important for the young generations”.

The first commentary on this another literary success of the city was given by the Nobel Prize winner Olga Tokarczuk, who is also a member of the Program Board of Wrocław Literature House; "I may sound strange, me saying this, but these are the most extraordinary literary weeks in the history of Wrocław. I am very happy about the title of UNESCO City of Literature for Wrocław!”.

Mayor of Wrocław Jacek Sutryk adds: "This event mobilizes us even more to work on sustainable development of the city also through culture”.

Wrocław’s projects presented in the application to the creative Cities Network are both local and international, and they are based on the seventeen sustainable development goals adopted by UNESCO in 2015 as a programme raising the quality of life for people around the world. The projects presented by Wrocław focus on supporting local creative industries related to books, building a community around literary events and involving various groups of residents in them. They also face challenges brought by the current situation in the world: integration of Wrocław residents coming from various countries and cultures, counteracting xenophobia and exclusion, providing equal access to education and culture. All the planned activities will be implemented in cooperation with local organizations, as well as other UNESCO Cities of Literature, especially those the closest to Wrocław – both geographically and program-wise – Lviv, Kraków, Prague and Heidelberg.

The information on the title of UNESCO City of Literature for Wrocław was also commented by the Secretary-General of the Polish National Commission for UNESCO, Prof. Sławomir Ratajski:

"I am very happy and satisfied that yet another Polish city, Wrocław, joins the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a City of Literature. We are glad that in that prestigious group of cities from around the world there are now 4 Polish ones: Kraków and Wrocław as Cities of Literature, Katowice – the City of Music, and Łódź – the City of Film. The dynamically developing UNESCO Creative Cities Network is an example of an innovative approach to sustainable development of cities based on cultural potential and creativity of their residents. Cities forming the UNESCO Creative Network create an elite of modern cities, which take into account the needs of their residents and offer them, through an innovative development model, constant improvement of the quality of life.

I congratulate Wrocław and wish it many successes in further strengthening the position of the city in the world as an important European centre belonging to UNESCO Creative Cities Network”.

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