Seattle, Washington, is home to more than 700,000 people in city limits and 3.7 million in the greater metropolitan area. Seattle's identity as a literary city has coalesced around a 10,000-year history of Indigenous storytelling traditions, as well as authors like Theodore Roethke, Raymond Carver and Octavia Butler. Seattle is consistently ranked as 'America's Most Well-Read'city and in the top three most literate cities in the United Stated of America. In 2012, book and record-store sales reached nearly US$82 million and a Creative Vitality Index (CVI) of 3.23. Seattle accounts for the most bookstores per capita in the country.
Seattle's writing traditions are guided by a sense of place, especially with respect to a willingness to embrace diverse viewpoints and technologies. Its literary scene reveals impressive breadth, depth and cohesion. Many events sustain Seattle's striving literary ecosystem, including Bumbershoot; the country's largest arts festival, Short Run Comix and Arts Festival; featuring indie comics and self-published, the Pacific Northwest Writers Association's conference, as well as visiting conferences like Association of Writers and Writing Programs and Modern Language Association.
Seattle's Office of Arts and Culture has seen their budget grow by nearly 44% in the past five years. In addition to the Creative Vitality Index report, the city maintains a dynamic 'cultural spaces' database to help track Seattle's arts and performance spaces. Other investments in creative vitality include Seattle's Arts and Cultural Districts programme, dedicated to nurturing and protecting arts and culture in neighbourhoods, the Literary Career Day for young adults and Poetry on Buses that publishes multilingual poems on transit.
As a Creative City of Literature, Seattle envisages:
- monitoring the economic impact of writing- and reading-related activities in the Seattle area through a literature survey to track the sector's growth and information to guide programmatic decisions;
- establishing international professional and artistic exchange programmes for writers and cultural professionals, including those from indigenous communities, within the UCCN;
- strengthening the creation, production, and distribution of literature by promoting local work to and of UCCN cities;
- developing Seattle further as an inclusive creative and literary hub by broadening racial and social equity, and improving access to resources by centring historically marginalised stories and proactive training opportunities;
- integrating culture and creativity into local development strategies, notably by leveraging public-private partnerships; and
- improving access to and participation in literary life for creators and consumers through exchanges, events and conferences.