Unesco city of literature status sought for Dublin


Dublin City Council is bidding to have the capital designated as a Unesco City of Literature.

The council's bid, which would see the capital following in the footsteps of Edinburgh, Melbourne and Iowa as the world’s fourth city of literature, coincides with the Dublin Book Festival which begins today.

Although no additional funding is offered to those cities awarded the accolade it is seen to provide a major boost in terms of tourism. According to estimates, landing the prestigious recognition in 2004 has generated about £2.2m per annum for Edinburgh and an additional £2.1m for the rest of Scotland.

The initiative forms part of Unesco’s Creative Cities Network project which is designed to promote the artistic development of cities by helping them share ideas on preserving and enhancing their cultural programmes.

The criteria for designation as a City of Literature include an “urban environment in which literature, drama and/or poetry play an integral role” and “experience in hosting literary events and festivals aiming at promoting literature.”

“While it is not a foregone conclusion that we will receive the designation our feeling is that with Dublin’s vast literary wealth, we shouldn’t have too much difficulty in gaining recognition, said Alastair Smeaton, divisional librarian with Dublin City Libraries, which is leading the bid on behalf of the council.

“To receive the designation would help raise the city’s profile and bring economic benefit both to the city and the rest of the country,” he added.

Details of the bid will be presented to members of the general public at the Dublin Book festival tomorrow afternoon.

Over 100 of the country’s leading authors, poets, children’s writers, social commentators and media personalities will gather in City Hall over the next three days for a series of 44 readings, public interviews, workshops and book launches as part of this year’s festival.

Among those set to take part in this year’s festival include Edna O’Brien, Michael D. Higgins, Dermot Bolger, Alice Taylor, Medbh McGuckian and Kate Newmann.

Entry to the festival is free and events are unticketed.

The Dublin Book Festival is organised by CLÉ, the Irish Book Publishers' Association and is supported by the Arts Council, the Department of Art, Sport and Tourism; The Irish Times; Foras na Gaeilge; Dublin City Council; Dublin City Libraries and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

The full programme of festival events is available at www.dublinbookfestival.com.