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Monday, October 20, 2008

Wellington misses out on City of Literature standing

In this morning's Dominion Post, Ruth Hill contributes the sad news that Wellington's bid for Unesco City of Literature status has been written off by the economic climate.

The campaign, which would have set Wellington alongside Melbourne and Edinburgh, promised a bonanza of millions of dollars, but was stymied by the projected cost of several hundred thousand.

The letter announcing the withdrawal of a previous application was signed by Wellington City Libraries' strategic marketing manager Duncan McLachlan. The plans had been scrapped, he said, "because of the global financial crisis and the council's need to focus on core services."

Wellington matched most criteria. Many of the country's leading literary lights live here, and it is also home to Victoria University's world-rated International Institute of Modern Letters. The National Library of New Zealand is here, as are the Alexander Turnbull and Beaglehole research libraries. There are several excellent bookstores, including quality independents, and stages both a literary festival and an international festival of the arts. There is also a quirky and popular Writers' Walk on the waterfront.

However, money talks, and finding sponsorship for anything at all, no matter how worthy, is getting harder all the time.

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