Sandeep Mahal has been appointed the first director of UNESCO Nottingham City of Literature.
Mahal will take up the role on 1st September.
Until recently, Mahal was director of The Space – a commissioning agency supporting greater digital access to the arts, co-funded by Arts Council England and the BBC. Previously, Mahal worked in public libraries for 10 years, and was formerly head of partnerships at The Reading Agency. She was a judge for the Fiction Uncovered Prize in 2013; awarded a fellowship from the Clore Cultural Institute the same year and chaired FutureBook, The Bookseller's digital publishing conference, in December 2015. Mahal is also on the board of trustees for writer development agency Spread the Word.
Nottingham was awarded the title of Nottingham City of Literature on December 11th, 2015, after an 18-month bidding process. The title is permanent and non-competitive. Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature is supported and funded by Nottingham City Council, The University of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent University and Arts Council England. It operates as an educational charity.
David Belbin, chair of the City of Literature board, said: “Sandeep's determination to keep our organisation ambitious, efficient and inclusive impressed us all. Things have moved fast: it was only a year ago we submitted the bid to UNESCO to join the Creative Cities Network, and only seven months since we were told we had succeeded. Since then, we’ve worked hard to structure ourselves, raise necessary funds, and now we have someone to take us forward into a bright future. We have great support from the city council, The University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University, who, by equally committing funding to taking us forward, are all intent on making the most of the accreditation. This is Nottingham working together, and working well."
Edward Peck, Nottingham Trent University vice chancellor, said: "We're pleased to have someone with such an outstanding record to lead this exciting initiative. We look forward to working closely with her."
Mahal said: “I am absolutely delighted to be the first director of UNESCO Nottingham City of Literature. It is now more urgent than ever to unlock the power of literature and storytelling to build bridges and bring greater community cohesion as we look ahead to a post-Brexit future. For a small city, Nottingham has an incredibly rich literary and storied scene, boasting world-class talent and institutions - literature is a vital ingredient in the city’s success. It is therefore crucial that it continues to grow, and my role is to help it do so."