Manchester UNESCO City of Literature Consultation 

What we did

Over three months we conducted interviews with people involved in every aspect of Manchester literary life: publishers, workshop leaders, teachers, performers, organiser, writers, performers, community writing activities… over a hundred contributions… Methods included interviews in person, emails, writer narratives, group consultation, phone conversations. We had two events at the Central Library.


Through these conversations we were made aware of a picture of Manchester’s literary life including its strengths and areas we need to develop. Our strengths: unrivalled, diverse live literature scene; range of venues, and festivals; a lot of trust placed in libraries; multilingualism; a lot of talented writers but also an audience with appetite for literature; collaboration and hard work. It feels like a place where Literature is in our DNA.


Our survey of Live literature activity in March 2017, we recorded 66 live literature events in 42 different venues, attracting an audience of 3422 people. Extrapolate this month’s events across one year, add in Manchester Literature Festival (which attracted 13,000 people in 2016) and as a conservative estimate, we believe that the annual audience for Live literature in Manchester exceeds 50,000.

Central principles

  • The governance of Manchester City of Literature needs to remain consultative in nature.
  • A commitment to long-term strategy needs to be an underpinning principle of Manchester City of Literature.
  • Manchester City of Literature needs to operate in everything it does with a spirit of openness towards all who want to engage with it. This should be reflected in its commitment to equality and diversity.
  • Manchester City of Literature should use where possible resources that are already available, rather than build new or replace existing ones.

Literature is valuable to this city and this city values and is committed to its Literature. In other cities this has been in the form of a writer’s centre for instance, but it doesn’t need to be so grand. It does have to be a public endorsement of Manchester’s outstanding literary contribution. Manchester’s literature sector knows what we have already. We all need to shout about this for everyone to be able to benefit and participate in it.

Download the consultation-overview (pdf).