Krakow has adopted the city strategy of literature and reading development. The resolution, voted in yesterday by the city councillors authorises Mayor Majchrowski to annually allocate funds from the cultural budget to support actions that build a reading culture and strengthen the work of literary communities. Included in the document are a strategy for modernising libraries, the development of scholarship programmes for writers, support for literary festivals and programmes for local publishers and independent bookstores. This is a historic moment for the city, which is even more strongly emphasising its desire to build its identity around literature.
In recognition of the centuries-old heritage, as well as the intensive literary life of the city, in 2013, UNESCO named Krakow a Creative City in the field of literature. Since then, numerous actions have been taken to popularise reading, including projects using new technologies (the Read PL! virtual e-book library), literary walks, city games and the launch of a support programme for literary debuts with a creative writing course and a publisher competition. The Conrad Award for the prose debut of the year completed an extensive programme of literary awards, which includes the poetry Wisława Szymborska Award, the theatrical Stanisław Wyspiański Award, the Kazimierz Wyka Award in the field of literary criticism, as well as the Długosz Award, which is handed out during the Krakow Book Fair. Krakow bookstores have lived to see the expansion of the possible rent discounts in city buildings, and the first competition for the organisation of cultural events in bookstores has also been established. In 2015, during the Biblioteka NOWA conference, a nationwide debate was opened on the libraries of the future. Krakow also actively promoted its writers abroad, for example by participating in the Paris Book Fair as a guest of honour. More scholarship recipients from the ICORN International Cities of Refuge Network are part of the mission of a city open to diversity and involved in the international debate about human rights. Krakow literary festivals – Conrad and Miłosz, numerous independent initiatives, including the Festival of Literature of Children, the Krakow Festival for Amateurs of Fear, Disgust and Anxiety, the Ha!wangarda Literary Festival, as well as the largest Book Fair in the country – are beating popularity records – in just October 2015, nearly 100 thousand people participated in the festival and fair events.
The programme confirming continued support of the city for activities aimed at raising the readership level is the realisation of commitments included in Krakow’s application to the Creative Cities Network from 2011. The project was created in collaboration with the literary circles of Krakow – cultural institutions, publishes, booksellers – and its assumptions have the recommendation of UNESCO and the Honorary Council of the City of Literature. Two weeks ago, the Culture Committee of the City Council of Krakow unanimously accepted the draft of the resolution.
The culmination of the Krakow – City of Literature programme will be the construction of a literary centre at the former Salt Warehouse. The long-awaited institution, bringing together combined public libraries, a media library, an interactive exhibition space, a multi-purpose hall and a co-working space for micro-business owners connected with the book market will be constructed in Zabłocie in the coming years.