Chairman Jos Lemaier and mayor Jan van Zanen with the bidbook for Utrecht Candidate City of Literature

Mayor Jan van Zanen has signed the request for Utrecht to become Unesco City of Literature on behalf of the community of the city of Utrecht. The presentation of the new Cities of Literature is expected at the end of 2017. Utrecht would be the first City of Literature of the Netherlands. The attribution of the title ‘City of Literature’ lasts forever.

The Utrecht literature department expects a lot from this title, both for the image of the city as for the literature from Utrecht. Joining the Unesco Creative Cities Network will boost the festivals and activities of the House of Literature and of other organisations like Utrecht University, the public Library, the Centre for the Humanities, the Expertisecentrum Literair Vertalen, the Miffy museum, the writers from Utrecht, poets, publishers and booksellers. It will become easier for writers and publishers from Utrecht to present themselves in other Cities of Literature. That’s a great advantage for a relatively small language region. Furthermore, the request of the title connects to the Utrecht Global Goals Programme, a coalition of parties from business life, education, the government and the cultural sector who work for an international and sustainable development.

The candidacy of Utrecht is supported by letters of recommendation from the Netherlands National Commission for UNESCO, the Dutch Foundation for Literature and the Stichting Collectieve Propaganda van het Nederlandse Boek (CPNB).

Mayor Jan van Zanen signing the request

City of Literature: what does it mean?

Since 2004 twenty cities have been named City of Literature by UNESCO. These are cities that not only have a long and impressive history in literature, but also at present have a dynamic literary climate, with many literature festivals, writers, booksellers and publishers active in the city. The cities form a network that come together yearly to come up with new ways to reach readers, to make visible the literature experience in different parts of the world, to exchange experience and expertise and finally to establish cooperation and exchange.

The list of other cities that have this title is a global mix of big cities and unfamiliar towns: Edinburgh, Melbourne, Iowa City, Dublin, Reykjavik, Norwich, Krakow, Heidelberg, Dunedin, Granada, Prague, Baghdad, Barcelona, Ljubljana, Lviv, Montevideo, Nottingham, Óbidos, Tartu and Ulyanovsk.