Lviv has been named “UNESCO City of Literature”. 47 cities from 33 countries have joined the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
Its aim is to “promote the social, economic and cultural development of cities in both the developed and the developing world”. The cities in the network promote their local creative scene and conform to UNESCO’s goal of fostering cultural diversity.
To be approved as a City of Literature, cities need to meet a number of criteria:
- Quality, quantity and diversity of publishing in the city
- Quality and quantity of educational programmes focusing on domestic or foreign literature at primary, secondary and tertiary levels
- Literature, drama and/or poetry playing an important role in the city
- Hosting literary events and festivals which promote domestic and foreign literature;
- Existence of libraries, bookstores and public or private cultural centres which preserve, promote and disseminate domestic and foreign literature
- Involvement by the publishing sector in translating literary works from diverse national languages and foreign literature
- Active involvement of traditional and new media in promoting literature and strengthening the market for literary products.
In April 2014, the Lviv City Council, the Lviv City Institute, and public and cultural figures gathered to apply for the UNESCO contest. To participate in the contest, the application of each candidate citiy should be backed by cities that have already received the title of “UNESCO City of Literature”. Lviv was endorsed by Dublin, Edinburgh, Norwich, Melbourne and Krakow.
UNESCO’s City of Literature programme is part of its Creative Cities network which was launched in 2004. The Network was born out of UNESCO’s Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity initiative which was created in 2002. Previous winners: Krakow (2013), Norwich (2012), Reykjavik (2011), Dublin (2010) and others. An important aspect of the “Creative Cities” concept is that the cities foster public/private partnerships particularly by encouraging the entrepreneurial and creative potential of small enterprises. Literature is just one of several categories of Creative Cities. Others include music, film, media, gastronomy, crafts and folk art, and design.