HOBART, NT — Hobart has been officially designated as a ‘City of Literature’ by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It’s now the second Australian city to garner this honor after Melbourne.
This title places Hobart in a prestigious group of cities globally, including Edinburgh, Prague, Barcelona, Dublin, and Quebec, recognized for their literary heritage.
The accolade aligns with Hobart’s ambition to be acknowledged globally as a nexus of knowledge, science, and creativity. UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network extends this recognition after a stringent nomination process, celebrating cities that prioritize cultural accessibility and leverage creativity for urban development, according to UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay.
Hobart’s Lord Mayor, Anna Reynolds, expressed that the award is a significant honor, poised to bolster Hobart’s burgeoning literary sector and attract investment to its creative industries. “This award will strengthen Hobart’s expanding literary sector and encourage investment in the city’s creative industries,” Reynolds said. Reynolds adds that the recognition will foster pride, enhance confidence, and provide novel opportunities for creative individuals and institutions to engage with an international community.
Notably, the Palawa kani played a crucial role in this recognition. This constructed language created by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre blends lutruwita’s indigenous languages. Hobart’s historical claim of publishing Australia’s first novel in 1818, housing the nation’s first public library, and launching its first ‘free press’ newspaper, underscored its longstanding literary ethos.
Also instrumental in securing this honor was the City of Literature Project Working Group, including representatives from TAS Writers, Libraries Tasmania, the University of Tasmania, Brand Tasmania, and Fullers Bookshop. Sue McKerracher, Libraries Tasmania Executive Director, remarked that the designation will benefit all Tasmanians.
McKerracher has noted the plan to leverage this title to promote reading, writing, and a love for books across the State Library in Hobart and its statewide public library network, addressing the challenge of low literacy in the region.
The acknowledgment by UNESCO is seen as a stepping stone for Hobart, with discussions on the subsequent steps to be taken, as approved in the recent council meeting.