Our 2023 Application
Over the last six months, a passionate working group has been preparing an application for Hobart to be named a UNESCO City of Literature in 2023. With representatives from the Tasmanian Writer’s Centre, Libraries Tasmania, the University of Tasmania, Hobart City Council, Brand Tasmania, and Fullers Bookshop, the working group embodies the power of Hobart and Tasmania’s Literary Sector.
But we do not work alone. In April 2023, we hosted two fabulously well-attended stakeholder events at Town Hall, where we invited writers, publishers, booksellers, academics, actors, and literacy organisations to join this story. They said yes.
On the 22nd of May, we were thrilled when Hobart City Council approved our request to submit, demonstrating the importance of literature, literacy, and creativity to our city.
Hobart is excited about the opportunity to be named a UNESCO City of Literature. The working group, our award-wining writers, our local government, and our readers are already invested, and all of us are waiting to see what happens next.
Nipaluna/Hobart is a City of Stories, positioned on an Island of Stories. Currently, it is seeking UNESCO City of Literature status to better broadcast its stories to the world.
First, the Aboriginal Tasmanian people told their stories here, and, despite European invasion, they have drawn on their knowledge, history, resilience, and creativity to retrieve their language, palawa kani, and to keep telling and interpreting both old stories and new.
Literature flourished in Colonial Hobart – a city of convicts and new settlers, who did not understand their new world and made sense of it through story. Australia’s first work of general fiction was published here in 1818, as was the country’s first ‘free press’ newspaper in 1824. In 1849, Hobart became home to one of the nation’s first public libraries. It was a city of people reading, writing, and storytelling.
Today, Hobart and Tasmania are home to a multitude of award-winning and best-selling writers, a number of well-loved independent bookshops, a small but adventurous local publishing industry, a popular state library, and a constantly evolving calendar of literary festivals, awards, events, and celebrations of reading.
But that is not the whole story.
Tasmania has the worst adult literacy rate in the country. Fifty percent of Tasmanian adults are functionally illiterate. Not only are they unable to read for pleasure, but they cannot access key health or political information. We know that low literacy rates can cause serious disadvantage, and we know this cannot continue.
As a UNESCO City of Literature, Hobart would draw on its history and contemporary literary ecosystem to target low literacy rates. Illiteracy is one of the biggest challenges facing our state. Literature and storytelling have the power to change the conversation from deficit to ambition, from insecurity to pride. UNESCO City of Literature status can help us do this. As a City of Literature, Hobart would work to solve our state’s literacy crisis, giving Tasmanians a new reason to read and pouring effort into events and initiatives that improve literacy and combat the social inequalities caused by illiteracy.
By joining the Creative Cities Network, we hope to:
- Share Hobart’s rich storytelling legacy with the world;
- Create more opportunities for Tasmanian writers;
- Create new international partnerships for our city;
- Draw on the knowledge of the Network as we combat adult illiteracy;
- Add our own knowledge to the conversation, sharing our experiences of regional literary practice, eco-fiction, and language recovery.
Use the below form to join the conversation and share your thoughts about Hobart applying to be a City of Literature!