Budapest submits application for 2023 UNESCO World Book Capital title on 15 April

The signatures of Mayor Gergely Karácsony and Deputy Mayor responsible for cultural affairs Erzsébet Gy. Németh signal the completion of a process in which the entire Hungarian book industry, the cultural institutions of Budapest and the government agencies responsible for foreign relations and culture have joined forces to develop the programme.

Should it win the title World Book Capital 2023, Budapest will organise book- and reading-focused events and activities grouped around three messages. The message of that year of books will be formulated along the dimensions of action, freedom and community.

Speaking about the application, Gergely Karácsony emphasised the following: ‘We believe that books, reading and shared cultural experiences provide an opportunity to discuss and accentuate what the freedom of thought and knowledge means, to give scope and priority to environmental protection and climate change, and to examine and highlight our common values, shared by and connecting all of us as humans. This will be a year of highlighting the need for solidarity, collaboration and empathy.'

A key objective of the application for 2023 is to run mutually reinforcing programmes that shape cultural, artistic, educational and social trends on the longer term as well, drawing on partnerships, creative thinkers and civil society. The community programmes of the event will serve equal cultural opportunities, the need for which will be even more urgent in the post-pandemic world.

‘During this year, we will turn reading and even novel writing into a community experience, involve the sister arts to stress the importance of environmental protection and sustainability, and – supporting the innovative and experimental options and forms of promoting reading – showcase the past and present book culture of Budapest’, Erzsébet Gy. Németh said. Budapest is planning an encounter with books that will be highly decentralised in terms of locations, with a multiplicity of small, unique events serving as focal points in addition to the large public institutions and the major central events. This is reflected by the participatory, active nature of a series of events, and the intended socialisation of the implementation effort through the involvement of volunteers.

As reported by the participants in October, the application was prepared by a body of professionals and discussions had started back in 2020. According to Dr Péter Fodor, who chairs the expert committee developing the application, ‘the cooperation effort in preparing and developing the programme has been exemplary. The Professional Advisory Board proposed ideas contributing to genuinely progressive messages, which build on Hungary’s already rich book and reading traditions as well as the latest international experience. It is especially a pleasure and an honour that several foreign twinned cities of Budapest, international partners of the Library and Hungarian industry organisations from across the Carpathian Basin support Budapest in its application for the World Book Capital 2023 title and a full year of rich and varied programmes.'

The application by Budapest is focused on the promotion of reading, the facilitation of traditional as well as virtual links between creators and readers, and the inclusion of other areas of art in order to speak to audiences and communities. Budapest will submit its application for 2023, which includes an action plan for the year and a list of contributors and partners, on 15 April 2021; UNESCO is expected to make its decision on granting the title during the summer of 2021.