New Cities of Literature among additions to UNESCO network

In celebration of the UN’s World Cities Day 2019, UNESCO has announced the designation of 66 cities to join the Creative Cities Network, making for a total of 246 Creative Cities worldwide. 

Among these new Creative Cities, 11 were designated as Cities of Literature including Angoulême, France; Beirut, Lebanon; Exeter, United Kingdom; Kuhmo, Finland; Lahore, Pakistan; Leeuwarden, Netherlands; Nanjing, China; Odessa, Ukraine; Wonju, Republic of Korea; Slemani, Iraq and Wrocław, Poland. There are now 39 designated Cities of Literature. We welcome our new sibling Cities of Literature to the Creative Cities Network and look forward to collaborating with them in the future. 

“A key value of our designation is the ability to create close ties with other creative cities from around the world,” said John Kenyon, executive director of the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization. “These 11 cities will make our network, more diverse and dynamic, and will offer significant new opportunities for our writers to connect with new audiences and our readers to discover new work.”

Iowa City was designated as a City of Literature in 2008, making us the third City of Literature in the world, and the second Creative City in the U.S. Since our designation 11 years ago, we have promoted literary events in and around Iowa City, have organized yearly literary festivals such as the Iowa City Book Festival, our One Book Two Book Children’s Literature Festival, and MusicIC. We also hosted the 2018 City of Literature conference during our 10th anniversary, in which members representing all the Cities of Literature were invited to discuss future projects and collaborations. 

The Creative Cities Network was created by UNESCO in 2004 to promote sustainable development through creative processes within cities and places of urban settlement. The Network recognizes cities from seven creative fields including Craft and Folk Arts, Media Arts, Film, Design, Gastronomy, Literature, and Music. Designated Creative Cities use their creative field by placing creativity at the core of their development and economy to ensure a city centered around inclusivity, safety, resiliency, and sustainability. 

All over the world, these cities, each in its way, make culture the pillar, not an accessory, of their strategy,” says UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. “This favours political and social innovation and is particularly important for the young generations.”

For more information on the Creative Cities Network, visit:

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