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New film celebrates Exeter as a UNESCO City of Literature

A new short film has been released by one of our partners, the Exeter City of Literature charity, to celebrate Exeter’s status as a UNESCO-designated City of Literature. Centre members were closely involved in the development of the bid in 2019 which was led by Exeter City Council and brought together people and organisations from across the city. The film features members of its Partnership Network and the literary activity they produce throughout the city, from author events with Quay Words, plays with Beyond Face, festivals with Bookbag, and much more. Exeter was designated a UNESCO City of Literature in 2019 and will hold this title in perpetuity. It recognizes Exeter’s strong literary history, dating back over 1,000 years, and the city’s focus on literature and well-being within its cultural offer.

Exeter City of Literature commissioned local company Preston Street Films to shoot and edit the footage. Performance poet Shaday Barrowes-Bayewunmi recorded the voice-over and freelance writer Duncan Moreland wrote the script. The film will be shown before all of the Powell & Pressburger and Dance First screenings at Exeter Phoenix in November and December.

Exeter has an unbroken history of reading and writing dating back over 1,000 years when the Exeter Book was created (itself recognized by UNESCO as one of the “world’s principal cultural artefacts”). Since then, the region has inspired writers from Charles Dickens to Agatha Christie; it’s been home to Hilary Mantel and Ted Hughes; and as a UNESCO City of Literature it has brought world-renowned authors, Ukrainian poets, and international opportunities to the residents, students, and visitors of Exeter.

Anna Cohn Orchard, Executive Director of Exeter City of Literature says: “Culture shapes and defines a place and we’re proud that the literary sector, in all of its creative forms, is defining Exeter’s future as much as it did its past. There is so much literary and storytelling activity going on in Exeter–this film celebrates that and shows why Exeter is a UNESCO City of Literature. Every organization featured in the film–and the attendees, visitors, and writers connected to them–makes Exeter the vibrant City of Literature it is.”

For more information, please contact: Anna Cohn Orchard – hello@exetercityofliterature.com

View the film here

Exeter City of Literature is a charity established to steward the UNESCO Creative City designation that Exeter received in 2019. Our vision is for everyone to love stories and storytelling and our mission is to celebrate diverse stories by working with our local and global communities. With 41 other UNESCO Cities of Literature, we provide opportunities for Devon residents to collaborate internationally and to use stories to better understand each other and the world we live in.

We believe in the power of words to imagine new possibilities for this world. Drawing on Exeter and Devon’s creativity and working in partnership with inspirational organisations, we will deliver a meaningful programme to the residents and visitors of our city and county for years to come.

Members of the Partnership Network featured in the film:

The UNESCO Creative Cities (UCCN) was created in 2004 to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development. Almost 300 cities around the world which currently make up this network work together towards a common objective: placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level and cooperating actively at the international level. Currently 42 UNESCO Cities of Literature from 31 countries are members of the Network and collaborate actively to promote the power of literature for sustainable and inclusive societies.

Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. We have set out our strategic vision in Let’s Create that by 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences. We invest public money from the Government and The National Lottery to help support the sector and to deliver this vision. See more on Arts Council England’s 2023-26 Investment Programme on their website: www.artscouncil.org.uk/investment23

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