In 2008, Melbourne joined the UNESCO Creative Cities Network when it was designated the first and only City of Literature in Australia, and the second in the world.
Melbourne’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature is acknowledgment of the breadth, depth and vibrancy of the city’s literary culture. Melbourne supports a diverse range of writers, a prosperous publishing industry, a successful culture of independent bookselling, a wide variety of literary organisations and a healthy culture of reading and engagement in events and festivals.
The designation was made in recognition of the following factors, amongst others:
- The quality, quantity and diversity of publishing and editorial initiatives in Melbourne;
- The quality and quantity of educational programmes in Melbourne;
- Melbourne’s urban environment in which literature is integral;
- Melbourne’s experience at hosting literary events and festivals, and promoting foreign and domestic texts;
- Melbourne’s libraries, bookstores and cultural centres; and
- The use of new media in Melbourne to promote and strengthen the literary market.
But, as Peter Carey said, “Melbourne has always been a city of literature“.
Fostering Freedom of Expression
UNESCO is mandated to protect and promote freedom of expression, both online and offline. Its Constitution calls on Member States to advance mutual knowledge and understanding between peoples through the “free flow of ideas by word and image.”