Melbourne

Melbourne

Although it is Australia’s second-largest city after Sydney, Melbourne is arguably the nation’s cultural capital. This rich cultural life, which includes a vibrant literary scene, has led the capital of Victoria to join the UNESCO City of Literature programme in 2008, along with Iowa City. Melbourne is host to a rich variety of film and music festivals, including the Melbourne International Film Festival and the Melbourne Jazz Festival. The Melbourne Fringe Festival is one of the world’s leading alternative art festivals. Meanwhile, Melbourne’s diverse multicultural heritage is reflected in events such as the Melbourne Italian Festival, the Australian Chinese New Year, the Thai Culture and Food Festival as well as the Greek Antipodes Festival. Melbourne also features many museums, art galleries and cinemas. Museum Victoria is Australia’s largest public museum. The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art exhibits outstanding examples of international art from around the world. The city is one of the world’s street art centres, and in the 19th century Australian Impressionism was born there. Melbourne is also important to the film industry. The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) features many film screenings and cinema-related events; borrowers can take advantage of a collection of 40,000 DVDs. Village Roadshow Pictures, Australia’s largest film production company, is based in Melbourne. Meanwhile, the first feature film was shot in Melbourne in 1906. The city is also renowned for its theatres, ballets and symphony. Without a doubt Australia’s major cultural hub, Melbourne also has a rich literary tradition. In the 19th century, prominent writers and poets included Rolfe Boldrewood, Marcus Clarke and C. J. Dennis. Peter Carey, who won the Booker Prize, was born in Melbourne. Famous contemporary writers affiliated with the city include Christos Tsoilkas, Nam Le, Barry Dickins and Helen Garner. Prominent writers of non-fiction originating in Melbourne include Germaine Greer, one of the leading feminist thinkers today. A leading site of literary and publishing life in Melbourne is the Wheeler Centre for Book Writing and Ideas, which organises over 200 events each year. Creative industries make up 4.4 percent of Victoria’s economy. Of all Australian cities, Melbourne has the largest publishing industry. Penguin Books is based in Melbourne. Another extremely successful publisher based in Melbourne is Lonely Planet, known for its travel guides. Melbourne is also a hub of educational and children’s books. The state of Victoria is home to 287 public libraries and 28 mobile libraries. Almost half of Victoria’s residents are library cardholders. In 2006, approximately 50 million items were loaned from the state’s public libraries system. The Victoria State Library is the oldest public cultural institution in Australia. Its collection includes 3.5 million items, including 2 million books. Home to 307 bookstores, Victoria has more than any other Australian state. Meanwhile, Melbourne can boast of having more bookstores per capita than any other Australian city. In particular, Melbourne is known for many independent bookstores. The headquarters of two in five Australian booksellers are based in Melbourne. On average, households in Victoria spend $9 per week on literature. Opened in 1960, the Little Bookworm is Australia’s largest library for children. To learn about the best bookstores to visit during your stay in Melbourne, click here and here. Given its wealth of cultural events, it is unsurprising that Melbourne offers many literary festivals. The most important is the Melbourne Writers’ Festival, which is an annual two week event. Prominent past guests have included: A. C. Grayling, Bill Bryson, J. M. Coetzee, Isabel Allende and Margaret Atwood. Other important festivals include the Overload Poetry Festival and the Emerging Writers Festival. The Melbourne Spoken Word arts organisation gives support to spoken word and poetry-related events across Victoria’s capital. Several of Australia’s most prestigious literary awards are given in Melbourne. Australia’s richest literary prize is the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, which is given by Victoria’s state government with the purpose of boosting the city’s literary scene and publishing industry. During the Melbourne Writers’ Festival, the Age newspaper presents the Age Book of the Year award for fiction, non-fiction and poetry “of outstanding literary merit and express Australian identity or character.” Meanwhile, the Melbourne Prize for Literature is given once every three years and is one of Australia’s most prestigious literary awards. Another noteworthy literary award presented in Melbourne is the Stella Prize, named for Stella Maria Sarah “Miles” Franklin, a leading Australian female writer. This prize, worth $50,000, is given to outstanding Australian women writers and lobbies for cultural change and promotes diversity. Melbourne is also home to several influential literary journals. Founded in Brisbane in 1940, Meanjin has been published by the University of Melbourne since 1945. Considered to be Australia’s most famous literary magazine, Meanjin reflects “breadth of contemporary thinking, be it on literature, other art forms, or the broader issues of the times.” Kill Your Darlings is another leading cultural journal based in Australia; it deals with all areas of the arts and publishes prose. Meanwhile, Voiceworks is a quarterly that gives a platform for young, up-and-coming Australian artists. Home to Australia’s largest publishing industry, Melbourne’s largest publishing houses are Random House, Macmillian, Penguin and Harper Collins. The University of Melbourne Press is a leading academic publisher. Some leading independent publishers include Affirm Press and Vignette Press. The University of Melbourne is an important provider of literary education. It features the Dinny O’Hearn Memorial Fellowship for emerging writers and the Peter Blazey Fellowship for biographical and autobiographical writing. Meanwhile, Express Media offers a mentorship programme for writers of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and plays under 30. Meanwhile, the Melbourne City of Literature Travel Fund offers $3,000 to anyone working in the book industry – writers, publishers, librarians and others – who is a Victoria resident to pay for travel expenses related to writing (research trips, travel to conferences, etc.). Many programmes boosting public literacy can be found in Melbourne. The Centre for Youth Literature offers countless programmes improving reading and teaching professional writing to young people. Meanwhile, the Victorian Writers’ Centre offers many writing courses.