Manchester has been rated ‘Excellent’ in all categories by UNESCO after submitting its first report since becoming a City of Literature – a unique achievement among the prestigious group of global cities.

In 2017 Manchester was successful in its bid to join UNESCO’s worldwide Creative Cities network as a City of Literature, which recognised the significant contribution of literature to the city. As one of its key creative institutions which includes the Centre for New Writing and John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester played a central role in the designation.

Over the past five years, the University has worked together with Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester City Council and the city’s literary community to deliver a rich and vibrant programme of events, showcasing Manchester’s talents and giving all of its residents the chance to participate in and benefit from the thriving City of Literature.

UNESCO called Manchester’s report “high quality” and “a good example for other cities to follow”. They praised the city’s work to support vulnerable residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, its commitment to poetry, its vibrant publishing sector, the partnership approach and strength in literature development, and the vitality its approach to multilingualism brings.

The city’s annual week-long Festival of Libraries was described as “a most impressive initiative… [attracting] great attention both locally and internationally”. The review noted the active political involvement in the City of Literature designation from both universities and Manchester City Council.

The review also praised the city’s focus on benefits for residents, and how Manchester was ambitious in contributing to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In conclusion, UNESCO said “the report reveals that Manchester makes literature a driving force for the city’s sustainability”


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