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Arts Council England award Exeter UNESCO City of Literature National Portfolio Organisation status

Exeter was designated a UNESCO City of Literature in 2019 and Exeter City of Literature became a charity and independent organisation in late 2021. Drawing on Exeter and Devon’s creativity, and working in partnership with inspirational organisations, we work to deliver a meaningful programme to the residents and visitors of our city and county.

We are therefore delighted that Arts Council England has welcomed Exeter City of Literature (ExCoL) as a National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) for 2023-2026. With our regional partners and 41 other UNESCO Cities of Literature around the world, we will provide opportunities for Devon residents to collaborate locally, nationally, and internationally and to use stories to better understand each other and the world we live in.

Our vision is for everyone to love stories and storytelling and our mission is to celebrate diverse stories by working with our local and global communities. In these challenging times, we believe in the power of words to imagine new possibilities for this world. This funding will ensure we can deliver on a range of projects in collaboration with our fantastic partners. We are incredibly grateful to Arts Council England, our Partnership Network, and the communities we work with for their ongoing support as we continue to promote literature as a central facet of Exeter and Devon’s development. After all, we are Made of Our Stories.

Anna Cohn Orchard, inaugural Executive Director of Exeter UNESCO City of Literature, said:

I’m incredibly thrilled and honoured that the Arts Council has invested in Exeter in this way. It has been a dream to head up Exeter City of Literature and work with so many supportive partners and people throughout Devon and the UNESCO Network. We now have the opportunity to grow significantly over the next three years and deliver on core areas of literature and wellbeing in order to contribute positively to peoples’ lives across the region.

Dee Rowett, Board Chair, said:

I’m absolutely delighted to see the Arts Council investment in Exeter City of Literature. We are immensely proud to work in collaboration with a variety of partners in Exeter and Devon to bring stories and storytelling activities to our communities. Today’s outcome will enable us to do even more to create further opportunities for people to engage in Exeter UNESCO City of Literature. We can’t wait to start that journey.