Introducing the City of Literature Office

The Melbourne UNESCO City of Literature Office is tasked with serving the City of Literature.

The Office role involves supporting the work and networks that exist, nurturing and developing new opportunities and networks, making connections across industry and audiences and championing all things Melbourne as a City of Literature.

The Office has three broad areas of action that address the aims of the Creative City Network as well as the needs for Melbourne as a City of Literature:

  1. Connecting the City of Literature
  2. Reflecting the City of Literature
  3. Supporting the City of Literature

The Office works in three ways:

  • Strategic initiatives – one off programs that can cause a meaningful change in the City of Literature
  • Partnership programs – working with partners to deliver programs that have impact
  • International exchanges – initiatives that begin here in partnership with another Creative City then travel around the network.

The Melbourne UNESCO City of Literature Office is a joint initiative of Creative Victoria and City of Melbourne and is hosted by The Wheeler Centre.


 Creative Victoria The Wheeler Centre

The City of Literature Office in action

Opened in 2014 the Office works largely behind the scenes towards the Creative City goals as well as being the focal point for communications and reporting to UNESCO.

Past strategic initiatives have included the Travel FundKnown bookshopsthe Lit Map of Melbourne, Poet Laureates of Melbourne, Tramlines, Virtual Writers in Residence and Writing our Melbourne. This website, and its calendar, is a major initiative for the Office and is in a constant state of development, with an ongoing process of translation and most recently with the addition of a Map.

Past partnerships programs have included 20 minute Cities (with Digital Writers festival), Art Book Fair (with the NGV), Crafting a City of Literature (with the Melbourne Prize), D-Writers China (with Writers Victoria), Open Book (with Melbourne Fringe), The Stories we tell Oursleves (with Spread the Word and The Wheeler Centre) and Visiting International Literary Programmers (with Melbourne Writer's Festival)

Internationally the Office facilitates every request for Melbourne content that it receives from our sister Cities of Literature. This has included MultiPoetry (in Krakow), The World Poetry Book Poetic Encounters (with Heidelberg), The Literary tram ( in Ulyanovsk) and Geopolitical Crossings ( Enghien las Bans).  The Office also publicized every residency call out it receives via its News Alert list. The Office publishes a quarterly newsletter for International friends as wellas our writers series A Letter from Melbourne  and our annual snapshot of Melbourne publishing in Reading the City of Literature and Poetry in the City of Literature for distribution overseas.

We were the first host city for Slam O Vision (which we developed) and we created and developed Sleipnir travels with our friends in Reykjavik.

The Office has  mentored a number of emerging organizations and individuals and has chaired some one off roundtables. The Office has supported many initiatives in their early stages, or with innovative exploratory international activity. These initiatives have included Books on the Rail#LoveOzYA, The Lifted BrowFunny Ha Ha and Peril Online Journal. We have partnered with initiatives like Blak and Bright and Literary Commons in delivering their programs and we champion literature, writers and writing wherever and whenever we can.

We have an ongoing relationship with the regional festivals in Victoria and hold an annual roundtable for regional literary programmers. We have also done a regional reporters program ,  developed a Festivals Road trip map of the state and ran the The Road Less Travelled initiative 

In 2018 Melbourne turned ten as a UNESCO City of Literature and we celebrated with a year long publishing program called Reading Victoria, we also partnered with the Wheeler Centre on the Parliament of the City of Literature as well as the storytelling gala Our City of Literature: Ten Stories of Melbourne

We're on Facebook where we highlight activity from Melbourne for our sister Cities, Instagram and we like to chat on Twitter where we run activities like City of Lit Advent CalendarPostcards from Cities of Literature, Summer in the City of Lit and 17 Books for 17 SDGs. Look out for Reading Melbourne our growing list of books set in Melbourne across all of our social media platforms.


Working with the City of Literature Office

The Office is here to help Melbourne be the best City of Literature it can be. The Office is committed to working with partners across the City of Literature in both enabling us as an active City of Literature as well as in achieving the Office's strategic priorities.

Any partnership or support from the Office will be judged on the impact to the City, impact to the partner and the sustainability. The Office is not resourced to have an ongoing relationship or provide ongoing support. The Office is not interested in working on initiatives which replicate what is already provided within the City.

While the Office has provided one-off funding initiatives previously, and may in the future, its primary goal is not as a funder. Also the Office is not strictly an organisation, and as such is not placed to provide sponsorship for events.

The Office occasionally calls out for application for its initiatives from individuals and organisations. Check here to see what is current.

Keen to know more or want to discuss how the Office can work with you? Contact the Director of the Melbourne City of Literature Office David Ryding.