It’s World Cities Day and Manchester’s 5th Anniversary as a UNESCO City of Literature

31 October 2022 - News
The 31st of October is celebrated by the United Nations as World Cities Day. An opportunity to celebrate the UNESCO ‘Cities’ strategy and everything it achieves through its connective nature.

It’s also a very special day for us as, while it will always be our anniversary as well, this year is Manchester’s 5th anniversary since receiving a prestigious UNESCO City of Literature designation.

The tagline for 2022’s World Cities Day is Act Local to Go Global.

“World Cities Day 2022 offers a renewed opportunity to advocate for cities and local communities empowered sustainable development, highlighting the coherence and complementarity of the local and global dimensions in our common pursuit of a sustainable future.”

With this is mind, we’ve been thinking about the importance of our UNESCO City of Literature status locally and how it’s connecting us globally.

In 2017, the bid was submitted by Manchester City Council in partnership with the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and with support from over twenty literary organisations based in the city. In 2018 those partners agreed to establish an independent not-for-profit organisation to manage the designation on behalf of the partners. This became ‘Manchester City of Literature’, which was constituted in 2019 and became a registered charity in May 2020. In the following two years, the office of Manchester City of Literature has 

  • Brought in over £200K of additional investment to the city for literary activity 
  • Created over 100 paid opportunities for writers and artists 
  • Taken on the coordination of the city’s International Mother Language Day celebrations and appointed three Multilingual City Poets to create new work for civic occasions 
  • Delivered two editions of a new event for the city-region’s cultural calendar: The Festival of Libraries. This multi-partner event saw 94 events take place in libraries across Greater Manchester in June 2021 and 2022. Independent evaluation of the Festival in 2021 showed: 
    • 78% of participants surveyed gained new knowledge or skills,  
    • 44% reported improved wellbeing,  
    • 36% will encourage others to visit and use libraries, and  
    • 31% said the events had changed their view of libraries 
  • Expanded the Partnership Network to other 30 organisations representing the city’s publishers, libraries, writing agencies, festivals, libraries and universities. 
  • Initiated new exchanges and collaborations with other Cities of Literature including Barcelona, Melbourne, Bucheon, Nanjing, Granada, Slemani, Utrecht, Krakow, Tartu, Quebec City, Gothenburg, Iowa City, Nottingham, Lviv and more. 

We have worked very hard to ensue that all our projects, not just the ones listed above benefit the city’s international profile and deliver benefits to residents, writers and literary organisations alongside contributing to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. 

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our core funders Manchester City Council, Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Manchester for their vision, support and unflinching commitment to Manchester City of Literature’s vision and values. We would like to thank our project funders National Lottery Heritage Funder, British Council and The Granada Foundation. And we would like to thank our Partnership Network for their enthusiastic commitment to collaboration and joint working.