The news was announced yesterday, becoming only the second Dutch city to so-named
Translated by Thomas Ansell
“Awesome news”, said Sjoerd Fietsma, the Alderperson in charge of culture at the Gemeente Leeuwarden, who teamed up with the Province of Friesland to try for the title. “This is a great follow-up to our year as Capital of Culture. We can now use this to grow our cultural contacts, not just in Europe, but around the world. Talented Frisian writers and artists will be challenged to shine on the world stage.” The story was reported in the Leeuwarder Courant today.
“Culture in the North is an unstoppable source of research and inspiration for writers, artists, and the public”, says Marleen Nagtegaal, artistic leader of LF2028, the follow-on organisation to the European Capital of Culture year. “That UNESCO are also recognising this is a great compliment to everyone who has worked so hard over the months for this nomination.”
The UNESCO jury itself said of the nomination: “the bid-book gave a glimpse of great ambitions. Creative and substantively strong.” Leeuwarden joing a select group of worldwide Cities of Literature. The programme was begun in 2004, with Edinburgh the first city. Since then the network has grown, in collaboration with the larger UNESCO Creative Cities Network, to around 30 cities. Other cities in the network include Ljubljana, Prague, and Melbourne.
With access to this large number of other cities, it is hoped that the Frisian literary network can be expanded. That Leeuwarden has been named is testament to the ambitions of both Leeuwarden and Friesland to keep literature and culture high up on the list of priorities for the city, and attempt to compete on an international level.
Sometimes more than one city per year is named, and in 2018 no new city was names. Up until now, Utrecht (2017) was the only ‘City of Literature’ in the Netherlands.