As a major port city on the northwest coast of the Black Sea, Odessa is the third largest city of Ukraine and the industrial, cultural and resort center of the region. With a population of 1,013,800 people, the city has a rich literary history that is linked to a number of famous writers and poets, including Mark Twain. In 2019, 2,522 people worked in Odessa’s cultural sector, which helped the city attract around 1.5 million tourists, bringing both economic and social benefits to the region.
Odessa City Council pays great attention to the development of literature and is the founder of various significant events, including the Municipal annual literary contest named after K.Paustovsky that rewards work that popularizes universal cultural values, spiritual development of the individual and love for the native land. With financial awards for the winner, this contest has been a popular event since it was initially held in the 1990’s. Other events include the municipal annual award “Cultural Capital”, which reflects upon of the importance of language culture development in Ukraine. The Cultural Capital award celebrates outstanding figures of culture and art from the city in the fields of literature, painting, theater, cinema, including members of the Odessa Regional Union of Writers of Ukraine and the Odessa Regional Union of Journalists of Ukraine.
In accordance with the strategy of the city, culture and creativity are the main priorities for social cohesion and sustainable development, as well as equal access to education and support for research and innovation centers. Local programs support these aims by offering free access to books and other information resources, in addition to providing comfortable workspaces, new technologies and opportunities to engage in collective innovation. The Mobile Library is an example of a progressive literary project, which delivers books and resource to people with special needs at home, in medical and social institutions, as well as collects information regarding these citizens and their book selections, enabling the project to recommend books based on their existing taste and provide a high quality and personalized service.
As a Creative City of Literature, Odessa envisages:
- establishing literary space for education and social interaction through the implementation of the municipal library hubs programme;
- hosting creative and theatrical literary performances of world renowned literature works;
- organizing literary events and contests for younger writers to increase engagement and promote talented young writers; and
- creating joint initiatives and interdisciplinary projects with members of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network and other cities of the world through the city’s Literary and Music Festival, its international film festival ‘Cinema Literature’, amongst others.