Exeter in Devon has become the latest UK city to receive UNESCO City of Literature status.
The city is now one of 66 cities in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, which includes Nottingham and Manchester. Exeter City Council,
Exeter Culture, The University of Exeter, Devon County Council, Libraries Unlimited, Literature Works, Exeter Cathedral and Exeter Canal and Quay Trust were all involved in the bid, which was endorsed by Sir Michael Morpugo.
The bodies will now embarrk on a four-year cultural programme to transform Exeter into a destination for writers and readers and engaging communities in cultural works. The programme will focus on wellbeing through storytelling particularly for younger and older members of the population, combatting loneliness, and connecting Exeter to other UNESCO cities.
The application looked to both the Exeter’s literary history - including the Exeter Book, a 10th Century anthology of Old English poetry held at the city’s cathedral and Exeter university which holds the archived works of William Golding, Ted Hughes and Agatha Christie. The bid also outlined the city’s efforts to improve residents’ wellbeing through culture.
Director of Exeter Culture Dom Jinks said: “This is so positive for Exeter. The bid made much of the city’s wide variety of historical assets. But it is actually much more about culture supporting the well-being of everyone in the city today, including those who may not currently see themselves engaging with culture.”
Exeter City Council Leader Phil Bialyk said: “Once again this is international recognition for the city and its cultural offer. Exeter spends more on culture than most other cities in the country. Many of the 66 cities that have become part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network across the world are much bigger cities with larger populations, demonstrating that Exeter is once again punching above its weight.”