• arts & culture

8 November 2018

2018 marks ten years since Melbourne joined the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, becoming a designated UNESCO City of Literature.

Melbourne City of Literature logo

The designation was made in recognition of Melbourne’s libraries, bookstores and cultural centres; the quality, quantity and diversity of publishing and editorial initiatives in Melbourne; and Melbourne’s literary events and festivals, amongst many other things.

The Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas will mark anniversary later this month with two days of events and celebrations modelled around the idea of a parliament for our city.

Melbourne’s leading writers, editors, booksellers and critics will come together with international guests to discuss and debate the past, present and future of Melbourne as a City of Literature.

What literary trends were we preoccupied with ten years ago? What will our bookish future look like? Who are the new guard of writers, editors and passionate readers who will usher in the next decade of literary Melbourne?

Presented in partnership with the Melbourne City of Literature Office, the anniversary celebrations kick off with a gala night of readings and storytelling on Wednesday 28 November. Hear from ten brilliant writers including Tony Birch, Alice Pung, Jane Rawson and Sumudu Samarawickrama, who have made Melbourne home for either a short time or a lifetime.

The celebrations continue 29-30 November with various sittings of the City of Literature Parliament, which are free to the public. The Parliament will finish with a new constitution, articulating a vision of our City of Literature in 2030.

Visit The Wheeler Centre for details

Did you know?

  • Around 80% of Victorians identify as readers, and more than 20% engage in creative writing themselves
  • According to Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Victorian literary sector employs more than 15,000 people (including writers, print media workers, archivists and librarians)
  • Victoria is home to Australia’s oldest public library, the State Library of Victoria (one of the first free public libraries in the world and the busiest state library in Australia)
  • Victoria has more bookshops than any other state in Australia
  • Melbourne boasts more bookshops per head of population than anywhere else in the country
  • Melbourne enjoys the country’s highest concentration of community book clubs
  • Overall library use increased in 2017. Almost 1 million library members visited 373 local council library facilities more than 30.5 million times and borrowed 46 million items (an average of 47 items per person)
  • Victoria is home to more than 430 creative festivals, of which around 85 (20%) have a focus on literature and publishing
  • More than 1.5 million Victorians attended literary events and festivals in 2017 (not including library activities). Victorians are more likely to attend literary events (23%) or writers’ festivals (7%) than the rest of Australia (5%)
  • Federal, State and philanthropic funding bodies distributed more than $6.5 million in funding to more than 150 writers, literary journals and organisations, supporting hundreds of activities and publications
  • The Victorian Prize for Literature is Australia's single richest literary prize