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Oxford pipped at the post for World Book Capital 2014

Oxford pipped at the post for World Book Capital 2014

10 July 2012

UNESCO has announced that the title of World Book Capital 2014 has been awarded to Port Harcourt in Nigeria.

While congratulating Port Harcourt, the committee behind Oxford’s bid for the title hopes that plans to programme a unique year of literary events will still go ahead in some form.

Oxford’s bid, which was coordinated by Oxford Inspires on behalf of a steering committee made up of eleven local organizations, including Oxford University Press, was one of eleven submitted to the UNESCO judging panel earlier this year.

The bid, which took as its theme Imagination Unbound, aimed to celebrate the wonder of books, their ability to inspire and unlock our imaginations, and generate a love of reading that can be shared by everybody.

UNESCO said that the competition between the bidding cities was incredibly close, with Port Harcourt being awarded the designation because of “its focus on youth, and the impact it will have on improving Nigeria’s culture of books, reading, writing and publishing.”

Although Oxford will not be an official World Book Capital city in 2014, the Steering Committee are optimistic that plans will still go ahead for a number of initiatives and exciting literary events throughout the year.

Since the announcement in September 2010 that Oxford would bid to become UNESCO World Book Capital, a wide range of local and national organizations have voiced their strong support for the city’s campaign – many of which also agreed to participate in the proposed programme. Although Oxford has missed out on the title, the Steering Committee remains dedicated to building on the important work and partnerships that the bid has forged.

Tony Stratton, Chairman of Oxford Inspires, says: “Whilst we are disappointed our bid was unsuccessful, it has been a catalyst for raising awareness of national literacy challenges and for putting real commitment and energy behind working for change; nothing of this work will be wasted.

“During the two-year bidding process, literary experts from different fields have been brought together and new ideas of joint working have burgeoned, which will enhance the activities of Oxfordshire’s libraries, publishers, booksellers and cultural organizations and put a spotlight on reading for all. We wish Port Harcourt the best of luck in 2014”

Promotion of several special Schools Literacy Programmes will also remain high on the agenda for the year. With local reading levels currently falling short of national targets, the aim is that these programmes will help to inspire a whole new generation of readers and writers across Oxfordshire.

The city’s World Book Capital Bid is also expected to put a spotlight on Oxfordshire’s renowned publishing industry, by working with the Local Enterprise Partnership to promote this cluster of excellence and expertise to the world.

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