[LINK] Melbourne 'City of Literature'
stephen at melbpc.org.au
stephen at melbpc.org.au
Wed Aug 20 18:48:12 EST 2008
by Jason Steger
August 20, 2008
The timing could hardly have been better had it appeared in the final
chapters of a best-selling thriller.
Three days before the opening of the Melbourne Writers Festival, UNESCO
has named Melbourne as its second City of Literature. Edinburgh became the
first in 2004.
The United Nations' cultural arm responded to an ambitious bid by the
State Government that has as its centrepiece the establishment of the
Centre for Books and Ideas at the State Library of Victoria.
Arts Minister Lynne Kosky said the decision was confirmation of the value
of a lot of people who have been working in the literature industry -
writers and publishers and those who support writing and publishing.
"It gives confirmation to them not only about the work they've done but
the quality and also the importance of their work to our city and why they
are a critical component of it.
Also what it (the decision) does is celebrate literature as an important
art form, and through the centre we will continue to grow that interest
and art form."
The Government announced the UNESCO bid in late 2006 and committed about
$9 million in the 2007-08 budget to support the writers' festival, repair
work at the library and to fund the bid.
This year it added a further $10.4 million. More than $3 million of that
has been earmarked to fit out the new centre, and a further $7.2 million
will develop a program of events and activities at the centre.
Ms Kosky said there were not many places internationally, and nowhere in
Australia, that had a comparable space for literature and ideas..
"Melbourne is becoming very well known for its creativity. This just
indicates that we have breadth in the creativity as well," she said.
The centre will provide a home for a variety of literature bodies,
including the Melbourne Writers Festival, the Victorian Writers Centre,
the Emerging Writers Festival and the Australian Poetry Centre.
Ms Kosky said she expected the centre to open in the middle of next year.
A committee representing the groups involved was being established, she
said, and it would appoint a director.
Steven Carroll, author of The Time We Have Taken, the winner of this
year's Miles Franklin Literary Award, said it confirmed that Melbourne was
the cultural centre of Australia.
"Melbourne has over the last century inspired some of the greatest works
of Australian literature. There is just something about the place - just
think books by the likes of Hal Porter, George Johnston, Miles Franklin
and Helen Garner."
Penguin chief executive Gabrielle Coyne said the title could not go to a
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