Going International

Seattle Is Now an Official UNESCO City of Literature

After multiple unsuccessful bids, Seattle finally joins UNESCO's Creative Cities Network.

By Darren Davis October 31, 2017


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Today the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (or UNESCO, because life is short) welcomed Seattle as an official City of Literature within the Creative Cities Network.

This was the fourth and ultimately successful bid by Seattle City of Literature, a nonprofit organization established to promote Seattle for the UNESCO designation, but also support writers, writing programs, and creative exchanges within Seattle and internationally. This month, Seattle City of Literature took part in an indigenous writer exchange, hosting Nic Low of New Zealand's Ngāi Tahu tribe. They had previously sent (formerly) local indigenous writer Elissa Washuta as our side of the exchange.

The official purpose of UNESCO's Creative Cities Network is to promote peace through the arts. (Of course, Trump had previously announced the U.S. would be leaving the organization, putting Seattle's bid in jeopardy.) And Seattle's newest bid sought to find opportunities where "literature can bridge divides, heal wounds, and have the arts help build peace...especially in this geopolitical environment" says Seattle City of Literature board member and executive director emeritus Stesha Brandon.

According to Brandon, the Creative Cities Network will help establish more opportunities for this sort of cross-cultural exchange and "highlight the unique artists we have in the region" on a more international stage.

Seattle joins Iowa City as only the second U.S. city on the list.

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