Open Letter, upon UNESCO designations 2015

Dec. 11, 2015

To the literary community:

Today UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network announced designations for cities in seven disciplines. We were sorry to learn that Seattle, which had bid for City of Literature status, was not one of them.

We offer enthusiastic congratulations to our fellow US cities who did win designation: Detroit (Design), Tucson (Gastronomy) and Austin (Media Arts). Also, big kudos to the nine cities internationally who won designation as Cities of Literature: Baghdad (Iraq), Barcelona (Spain), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Lviv (Ukraine), Montevideo (Uruguay), Nottingham (UK), Óbidos (Portugal), Tartu (Estonia), Ulyanovsk (Russian Federation).

We deeply thank Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, his staff at the Office of Arts & Culture (particularly Randy Engstrom and Calandra Childers), City Councilmember Nick Licata, Rebecca Brinbury, Barbara Malone and all our stakeholders who were generous with resources, time and input as we developed the 2015 bid. We also want to thank our many supporters nationally, especially State Department staff and Iowa City’s City of Literature staff, and our endorsers at the American Library Association, Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and PEN America.

The widespread support in the national and local arts community for this effort is evident as it is inspiring. We are assessing potential support for another bid and how to move forward best to support the literary arts community in Seattle and regionally.

Our non-profit has made progress in galvanizing local literary support for the effort and in establishing connections with literary cities around the world. Among our successes this year is our work with the City of Seattle to establish a Civic Poet program. Claudia Castro Luna, the city’s first Civic Poet, serves as an ambassador for Seattle’s rich literary landscape and represents the city’s diverse cultural community. In addition, our organization collaborated on events with Hugo House and Elliott Bay Bookstore that focused on diverse international voices.

We will be in conversation with our local literary and arts stakeholders to develop a path forward, and will share news when those next steps are clear. If you want to be part of that conversation, please contact us!

Sincerely,

On behalf of the The Seattle City of Literature Board of Directors,

Bob Redmond
Board President