Launched by UNESCO in 2004, the Creative Cities Network was established to promote cooperation among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development.
There are 246 cities in the network, each awarded their UNESCO designation due to a commitment to either crafts and folk art, design, film, gastronomy, media arts, music or literature. The network is far reaching – Bangkok has been recognised as a city of design, Trinidad received creative city status for its crafts and folk art scene and Parma joined the global network in 2015 for its excellent gastronomic offering.
The cities in the network promote their local creative scene and conform to UNESCO’s goal of fostering cultural diversity. All of them possess a strong cultural past, a diverse and vital contemporary cultural scene, and aspirations to ensure that culture is accessed both locally and globally.
In 2017, Manchester was welcomed into the Creative Cities network as a City of Literature. UNESCO Cities of Literature are awarded the title based on their dedication to pursuing excellence in literature locally, and work together to promote new national and international literary links.
There are currently 39 cities of literature, spanning 28 countries and six continents, and representing a combined population of more than 26 million. Manchester is one of the five cities of literature in the United Kingdom, sitting alongside Norwich, Edinburgh, Nottingham and Exeter.
Cities of Literature are active in making the literary and creative sectors of their cities thrive through a shared global strategy. Network-wide collaborations have included World Poetry Day, International Literacy Day, and Cities of Literature Recommend, which saw each city promote one book and one author from their city.