Share story

The effort to get Seattle designated an international City of Literature by UNESCO has new leadership, with a new interim executive director from the local community of books, authors and literary events.

Stesha Brandon is a former program director at Town Hall Seattle, where she helped produce more than 350 events annually. Before that she worked at Seattle’s University Book Store for ten years, where she programmed 500 events annually, according to a press release. She’s served on  numerous boards and committees, including the Bumbershoot Task Force and the Washington State Book Awards jury.

“I am delighted to join this effort to designate Seattle a UNESCO Creative City, and excited to deepen our relationship with local literary and arts organizations,” Brandon said in a statement. “We have a vital role in supporting Seattle’s literary community, and there is still valuable work to be done.”

The local City of Literature effort learned in December that its bid for designation had not been accepted by UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network. In an interview, Brandon said the group had been invited by UNESCO to try again.The next application period is in 2017. Nine cities did receive the literature designation, though not cities in the U.S. In the last round, Seattle was the only U.S. city that applied in the literature category. The designated cities are Baghdad (Iraq), Barcelona (Spain), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Lviv (Ukraine), Montevideo (Uruguay), Nottingham (U.K.), Óbidos (Portugal), Tartu (Estonia) and Ulyanovsk (Russian Federation).

Three American cities did join the UNESCO Creative Cities’ network, though in other areas of emphasis. Detroit earned a Creative Cities designation in Design; Tucson in Gastronomy, and Austin in Media Arts.