The Creative Cities Network programme run by UNESCO aims at highlighting the achievements and aspirations of urban centres that want to share their ideas, experience, and best practices for sustainable cultural, social, and economic development. Cities may implement these ideas in various areas of creative activity, including literature, film, music, craft and folk arts, design, media arts, and gastronomy.
The UNESCO Cities of Literature work together on creating a global partnership and literary connections between cities and countries. Each of the cities also carries out its local programme.
The first city to become a UNESCO City of Literature was Edinburgh, which received the title in 2004 in recognition of its literary heritage, vibrant present, and ambitious plans for the future. In 2008, UNESCO announced another two Cities of Literature: Melbourne and Iowa City. In 2010, Dublin joined the network, a year later – it was Reykjavik, and in 2012, Norwich was added to the list.
Krakow began its efforts to become a UNESCO City of Literature in 2010. Works on the application integrated the diverse literary circles of the city and led to the creation of a common strategy of development. The application was submitted to UNESCO towards the end of 2011 by Jacek Majchrowski, Mayor of the City of Krakow.
In preparation for the title of a UNESCO City of Literature, Krakow remained active in building international cooperation and ties with the wider literary community. An important initiative in this process was the “Creative Cities and Regions. Challenges for Cooperation between the Cities of Literature” Conference organised in Krakow on 26-27 October 2012. Thanks to this event, representatives of the UNESCO Cities of Literature and the cities applying for this title, as well as major Central European literary centres, met for the first time. They included representatives of: Edinburgh, Dublin, Norwich, Iowa City, Melbourne, Reykjavik, Naples, Prague, Lviv, Brussels, Bratislava, Budapest, Vilnius, Tartu, Stavanger, Jaipur, Vancouver, and Madrid. The conference identified the most important challenges faced by the cities and helped plan common development strategies.