Located in the centre of England, and home to 320,000 inhabitants – with 786,000 in the wider urban area, Nottingham boasts a rich history of illustrious literary figures residing within its walls, such as Lord Byron, D.H. Lawrence, Stanley Middleton and Alan Sillitoe, to name but a few. Now, as a hub for creatively, records show that over 2,400 creative businesses, employing nearly 20,000 people, are based there. The literature-related programmes of Nottingham Trent University and the University of Nottingham, campuses together attract a worldwide student population of more than 60,000 annually, are renowned for their long tradition in creative writing courses. In addition, the city has a strong library network featuring the 200-year-old Bromley House Library.
Distinguished by the variety of its literary events, Nottingham annually hosts the multidisciplinary Nottingham European Arts Theatre (NEAT) Festival, which gathers 300 artists and a 55,000-person audience. In addition, the independent bookshop Five Leaves hosts numerous indoors and outdoors public readings, as does the Writers’ Studio, an innovative body run by writers for writers. Nottingham's literary scene is underpined by grassroots initiatives and a cross-cutting approach towards literature, embracing books, comics, plays, film-scripts, videogames, and visual arts.
The Nottingham City Council's commitment to creativity and creative work is evident in the ambition of its policies, notably the development in 2013 of the Creative Quarter. A flagship project of the city’s 2012 Growth Plan, the Creative Quarter aims to foster exchanges between the business community and creative and educational practitioners and institutions. Since its launch, the project has generated new employment opportunities in the creative sector, including roles in literature, media arts, film and entertainment industries, and inspired new city-centre venues and networking opportunities.
As a Creative City of Literature, Nottingham envisages:
- tackling illiteracy through grassroots initiatives including the award-winning Dawn of the Unread project to engage reluctant readers with literature and, in turn, drawing a path to lifelong reading and learning;
- extending the City Read and Write programme to hold workshops in libraries, schools and cultural centres to encourage habits of storytelling, especially by targeting young people;
- continuing to organize the Nottingham Festival of Words, which showcases a wide range of international and multilingual works and fosters the participation of marginalized and vulnerable groups and individuals;
- broadening job opportunities for young people through the Mouthy Poets collective, which focus on economically sustainable careers in the literary sector; and
- nurturing international cooperation with other Creative Cities of Literature, notably through the City Read and Write goes Global project to highlight innovative intercultural experiences.