Since its designation in 2008, Melbourne officially holds the title of the second City of Literature in the world to be granted designation.
Hosted by The Wheeler Centre in partnership with the State Library of Victoria, the Melbourne UNESCO City of Literature Office is a joint initiative of Creative Victoria and City of Melbourne. The Melbourne UNESCO City of Literature Office’s main role is to serve the City of Literature.
Launched in 2004, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) aims to strengthen cooperation with cities that recognise creativity as a strategic factor of sustainable development. Melbourne joined the Cities of Literature network in 2008, which includes 42 cities and spans 28 countries and six continents. Melbourne’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature is an acknowledgment of the breadth, depth and vibrancy of its literary culture.
Launched 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.
The Office role’s is to connect Melbourne as a City of Literature to the UNESCO Creative Cities network as well as use the benefits of being a member of this network to support and elevate the local literary sector.
The Office has three broad areas of action that address the aims of the Creative City Network as well as Melbourne’s needs as a City of Literature.
- 20 minute Cities (with Digital Writers Festival) – 2016
- Between the Lines – 2023
- Crafting a City of Literature (with Melbourne Prize) – 2017
- D-Writers China (with Writers Victoria) – 2013
- Edinburgh Exchange – 2018
- Expedition Poetry (with Heidelberg) – 2022
- Festivals Roadtrip map – 2018
- Green House writers’ room – 2023
- International Literary Programmers Roundtable – 2023
- Known Bookshops – 2016
- Lit Map of Melbourne – 2015, ongoing
- Open Book (with Melbourne Fringe) – 2016
- Penpal Network – 2023
- Poet Laureates of Melbourne – 2020
- Reading the City of Literature – 2016, 2017, 2023
- Regional reporters program – 2019
- Residency Round-up – 2023
- Slam-O-Vision – 2017, ongoing
- Sleipnir travels (with Reykjavik City of Literature) – 2016, ongoing
- The Road Less Travelled – 2021/22
- The Stories We tell Ourselves (with Spread the Word &The Wheeler Centre) – 2021
- Tramlines – 2023
- Travel Fund – 2015/16
- Virtual Writers in Residence – 2021, ongoing
- Visiting International Literary Programmers (Melbourne Writer’s Festival) – 2017, ongoing
- Writing our Melbourne – 2017
Internationally, the Office facilitates every request for Melbourne content that it receives from our sister Cities of Literature. This includes MultiPoetry (in Krakow), The World Poetry Book (Heidelberg), Poetic Encounters (Heidelberg), World Poetry Day (Granada) and Geopolitical Crossings (Enghien las Bans). The Office also publicises every residency callout it receives via its News Alert list.
This website and its calendar are major initiatives for the Office and are in a constant state of development, with an ongoing development process. We also recently added a map that depicts Melbourne in literature.
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.
In 2022, we hosted the annual City of Literature meeting, which is hosted by different Cities each year. It was our first time hosting this meeting, which aims to bring the Cities together to discuss internal matters, as well as the potential for collaborations and activities across borders.
The Office is here to help Melbourne be the best City of Literature it can be. We are committed to working with partners across the City of Literature in enabling us as an active City of Literature as well as in achieving the Office’s strategic priorities.
- The Office does not do events, workshops, or any direct program delivery.
- The Office cannot fly people around the world.
- The Office is not an organisation, and as such, is not placed to sponsor events.
- The Office is not a funder.
- The Office is not interested in working on initiatives that replicate what is already provided within our City.
- Any partnership or support from the Office will be assessed on its impact on the City, partner and sustainability. The Office is not resourced to have ongoing relationships or provide ongoing support.
Keen to know more about the Office and how it can work with you? Contact the Director of the Melbourne City of Literature Office, David Ryding.
The Office also occasionally calls out for applications for opportunities—please check here for any current opportunities.
Don’t forget to subscribe to the Melbourne City of Literature Office news alert to be notified of upcoming initiatives.
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.”