Since the 19th century, Barcelona, a city of 1.6 million inhabitants, has been universally recognised as a publishing centre for Spanish, Latin American and Catalan literatures. Popular with multinational groups and having its own thriving independent publishing scene, the sector adds a 1.2 billion Euros value to the regional economy and has been consolidated in the last two decades both at the local level, as demonstrated by the doubled number of public libraries, and at the international level, with 44.8% of the book exports going to the region of Latin America.
The sector of literature in Barcelona maintains its international dynamism through the organization of a wide array of international book fairs including Liber, which is the most important Spanish language fair in Europe with a special focus on digital content. The city is also home to Catalan PEN, the third oldest member of the PEN International INGO. Programmes are undertaken to increase literacy and literary curiosity for the general public and specific audiences. The “Regional Literary Agency Programme” notably conducts readings in unexpected places throughout the city such as in football fields, at the Parliament of Catalonia; Barcelona’s local Parliament building, and on trains, as well as holding conferences and workshops in correctional facilities and hospitals.
In order to further foster creativity, the Municipal Culture Bureau provides 130,000 euros to support literary events and enhance the city’s international impact in the field. In addition, Barcelona is one of the cities that initiated the Agenda 21 for culture, testifying to a rich experience in international cooperation and commitment to placing creativity at the core of its urban policy agenda, by working toward an inclusive development approach based on economic feasibility, social equity, environmental responsibility and cultural vitality.
As a Creative City of Literature, Barcelona envisages:
- nurturing the sector of literature at the local level by implementing a new facility enhancing the networks of local writers by redirecting the focus of cultural centres toward literature and by implementing new projects to cultivate reading;
- hosting an annual International Editors’ Convention to discuss and promote the future of the publishing industry, with special emphasis on cooperating with other Creative Cities of Literature;
- dedicating a special part of the programming at the cultural centres and the literary festivals to the Creative Cities of Literature with the aim of fostering dialogue between diverse literatures; and
- taking the opportunity to host the UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day to increase visibility as well as contribute content to the Network.