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Tartu became a UNESCO City of Literature

Tartu City Government

City of Literature Foto: Juhan Voolaid

14 December / Tartu has been accepted into UNESCO’s network of Creative Cities and has been awarded the title of international City of Literature.

“Tartu boasts an ample literary tradition and fully deserves this honourary title. This was preceded by thorough preparatory activities involving the city’s literary circles and cultural establishments, who will also play a vital part in the subsequent essential work. The City of Literature title will certainly add new dimensions to our cultural life,” Mayor of Tartu Urmas Klaas commented on yesterday’s decision.

Several years ago Tartu’s literary circles had suggested that the city should apply for membership in UNESCO’s network of Creative Cities and for the City of Literature title. This summer the city of Tartu submitted to the UNESCO Directorate-General an official application for admittance into that network.

In the autumn of the previous year the City Government had formed a committee presided by the mayor to represent various interest groups in this process. The committee formulated Tartu’s literary goals and corresponding activity directions: promotion of reading habits, development of literary life, improvement of international cooperation, studies of literature, facilitation of translation and creative writing, protection of the freedoms of speech and creativity for the evolution of open civic society, and support for literary and cultural diversity. Several ideas have already been implemented: the annual Tartu Children’s Literature Prize, the Writers Coming to School programme at the city’s general-education schools and the training of teachers for nursery schools on topics of children’s literature and creativity.

Tartu’s five goals were included in the application submitted to UNESCO, as penned by the Cultural Department of the City Government working closely with the Estonian Literary Society. The application requirements included a proposal for three international initiatives, and Tartu has proposed literary projects aimed at enhancing the urban space (the pilot project is poems on the city’s buses), student cooperation in translating works of authors from partner-states to introduce them locally and the literary non-urban project popularising city suburbs, with the primary target groups being creators of texts and local residents and tourists in search of non-traditional experiences.

The City of Literature title is awarded by the UNESCO Directorate-General permanently. The city must annually submit a report on the implementation of the action plan and its effects.
Besides Tartu, this year UNESCO has awarded the City of Literature title to Barcelona, Bagdad, Ljubljana, Lviv, Ulyanovsk, Montevideo, Nottingham and Óbidos.

Previous recipients of UNESCO’s City of Literature title: Edinburgh, Dublin, Reykjavík, Melbourne, Iowa City, Norwich, Krakow, Prague, Heidelberg, Granada and Dunedin. Tartu has become the first city in the Baltic States and Scandinavia to have been awarded this honourary title.

Further information: http://www.tartu.kirjandus.ee/eng

Last changed 20.10.2016