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Prague named UNESCO City of Literature

17 DECEMBER 2014 - Prague’s application to become a UNESCO City of Literature has been approved. In 2009, a number of institutions and individuals from Prague’s literary scene took the initiative to apply for Prague to become a ‘City of Literature’, a title awarded by UNESCO to cities of exceptional value in the field of literature. Their effort has joined together more than 30 notable literary organisations and has long since exceeded the framework required for the UNESCO project. The initiative is currently instrumental in improving the coordination and planning of joint actions, in sharing experiences and in promoting mutual support. It has become the widest platform on which literary publishers, scholars, librarians and other architects of Prague’s literary scene can collaborate. Since 2004 when the title was first awarded, only seven cities worldwide had received the honour. Therefore, Prague’s inclusion in the Cities of Literature puts it among very exclusive company. It is important to note that Prague’s collaboration with and support from these other cities played a key role in its successful candidacy. Moreover, the application would not have been possible without continued support for Prague or the promise of great future support for the project.

“I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this success, especially the project partners led by the City Library. We view this exceptional title not only as recognition of the undeniable quality of Prague’s literary scene, but, most importantly, as a pledge to its increased support,” said the Minister for Culture, Jan Wolf. “Throughout its history, Prague has always been the cultural and spiritual core of Central Europe. It is our duty today to continue this tradition. Supporting literature is a good investment into the improvement of education and quality of life in our city. Moreover, literature is easily accessible to the general public and, last but not least, it is one of the main attractions for incoming tourists. Those of us who know and love Prague know that literature comes alive here at almost every corner. The title given to Prague by UNESCO will help pass this message on to those who don’t already feel it for themselves.”

“It is of course a great honour and hugely gratifying for us,” explained the director of the Prague City Library, Tomáš Řehák. “Since the first moment we began the project we believed that we could one day receive the title. We succeeded in this thanks to the cooperation of all the partners and support from the capital, the Culture Minister, the Czech representatives of UNESCO and many others. I am reminded of the beautiful words our city representatives used to support our candidacy to which we will add today. We must stress that this story is not over, quite the opposite. One could say that we are at the start of a new chapter. Receiving this title must give impetus to even more intensive collaboration and to new projects in support of literature in Prague. Prague has always been a city of literature, now the whole world knows this and will be watching us!”

The Creative Cities Network for Literature was founded in 2004 and the members so far include Edinburgh, Melbourne, Iowa City, Norwich, Reykjavik, Dublin and Krakow.

Just some of the most important criteria in the rather long and complex process for accepting new members in to the network include: the city must have a sufficient number of institutions which preserve, promote and disseminate literature; literature must be an integral part of life in the city; literature must receive sufficient support; the city must have the ability and experience to host different types of literary events; there must be a guarantee of sufficient education and a guaranteed quantity, quality and variety of literary activities.

Source: http://www.czechlit.cz/zpravy/praha-ziskala-od-unesco-titul-kreativni-mesto-literatury/