Greater North: Cities of Literature

Edinburgh is the world first UNESCO City of Literature, and is joined each year by new cities, forming a global network. But what is a City of Literature? How does it’s literary economy operate? What can we learn from them – and how can we support their development?

The Project

The brief from the Scottish Arts Council and Arts Council England was to compare and contrast two such literary cities, looking at their creative industry and examining the successes, and where there was room for growth.

Melbourne had just joined Edinburgh as a UNESCO city, and was keen to showcase its hip literary scene to a UK delegation. With funding from three countries and eight different sources, Greater North: Cities of Literature took place. Nineteen UK arts professionals from the Greater North regions (Northern England and Scotland) were selected to undertake a study tour in Edinburgh and Melbourne, for nine days.


  • Develop strong international partnerships.
  • Inspire arts professionals.
  • Invest in cultural leadership.
  • Foster excellence through exchange of best practice and project models.

Vital Statistics

  • 17 organisations represented from the Greater North region.
  • Met approximately 1100 people across two cities.
  • Each delegate attended between 44 and 55 meetings.
  • The group participated in 3 public events, including a keynote address and panel debate for 300 members of the public and literary community, held in honour of the Greater North delegation’s visit.
  • Three tailored networking events – two to meet around 150 writers, and the other to meet with 120 managing directors and senior staff of large literary organisations in Melbourne.
  • The cascade effect will continue for several years, as international links strengthen and the Greater North delegates continue to talk to their organisations and each other about the project and the ideas it inspired.

Project Partners

  • Arts Council England – North West, North East and Central
  • Scottish Arts Council
  • Arts Victoria
  • State Library of Victoria
  • Metlink

Delegates – representatives of:

  • New Writing Norwich
  • Mslexia magazine
  • Seven Stories
  • The Bluecoat
  • Scottish Book Trust
  • Edinburgh International Book Festival
  • Glasgow City Libraries & Aye Write! Festival
  • Kirklees Libraries
  • Wordsworth Trust
  • Durham City Arts
  • Leeds Library & Information Services
  • Oldham Libraries
  • The Writing Squad
  • Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature
  • Scottish Arts Council
  • Arts Council England 

Thank you for this wonderful opportunity.  The value of being able to get away from day to day pressures and learn and think in strategic and creative ways was invaluable… I felt really honoured and inspired to be in the company of such an interesting and talented group of travellers and to have the opportunity to be part of this delegation – Greater North 2008 delegate


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