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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: November 25, 2008 @ 12:30 pm

    Cork, UNESCO city of visual folk media arts

    Fiona McCann

    UNESCO has designated Iowa City as its third City of Literature. You know, along with Edinburgh and Melbourne. Melbourne? Fabulous city and all, but of literature? So here’s how it works. UNESCO has a project called the Creative Cities Network. As far as the website goes, it “connects cities who want to share experiences, ideas and best practices aiming at cultural, social and economic development.”

    There’s an opportunity to ”Read More” on the site with tantalising links entitled “What is the Creative Cities Network” and “Why Cities” that at the moment just lead to a log-in page that I can’t be bothered working out access to, even were such a thing possible. But Wikipedia elucidates a little: “The Creative Cities Network aims to find and enrich a member city’s cultural identity in the midst of a growing trend towards internationalism.” An interesting enough project, that so far includes no Irish cities, interestingly enough. Perhaps because to become part of the network, you have to submit an application.

    Those who’ve done so and been accorded membership include the three cities mentioned above, as well as Bologna, Seville and Glasgow for music, Aswan in Egypt and Santa Fe in the US for folk art (whatever that is), Berlin, Buenos Aires, Montreal and Shenzhen for design, Lyon for media arts (again, what now?) and Popayan in Colombia for – wait for it - gastronomy.  

    So what should we go for? Galway for music, and Dublin for literature seem a little obvious, so perhaps it’s worth getting creative with the Creative Cities Network. Any suggestions?

    • m says:

      There’s an application for Dublin as city of literature already in train. Fingers crossed there will be an announcement late next year.
      Kudos to Dublin City Libraries who have led this charge

      As for other suggestions – Navan as Ireland’s city of comedians?

    • Fiona says:

      I like it, m! I did take a bit of umbrage to note that Melbourne got “literature” over Dublin, and am glad it’s being addressed. But what will this actually do?

    • m says:

      Tricky to know what will actually happen as a result.
      It will certainly help when lobbying state agencies for funding. It may also draw more cultural tourists to Dublin. It certainly isn’t a crock of gold at the end of a UNESCO rainbow though!

    • clom says:

      Edinburgh’s City of Literature is a charity, run by a trust. First and foremost it’s a reader development partnership with a broad coalition of literary/library/learning organisations. It is not run by UNESCO but works to live up to the designation.

      Their activity is really varied, from running the annual One Book, One Edinburgh campaign to running a monthly “salon” for people in the book biz. They’ve also published a series of short fictions by local authors (from the mega famous to the lesser known), support local writing groups, offered funding for events for hard to reach groups as well as commissioning comic/graphic novel retellings of both Strange Tale of Jekyll & Hyde and Kidnapped.

      (Full disclosure: the organisation I work for has worked in partnership with the City of Literature Trust so I’m probably a bit biased!)

      More details on the website:

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