It may come as a surprise to many Melburnians to find out that their city is a designated UNESCO City of Literature alongside Edinburgh, Iowa City, Dublin, Reykjavik and Norwich. The Cities of Literature form a global network – alongside other global creative cities – that celebrates and promotes international excellence in the arts. (You can read the list of criteria and characteristics required to join the UNESCO City of Literature network.) Read more about the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
Our City of Literature status is a recognition and celebration of our passionate readers. Melbourne is home to many of Australia’s best and best-loved writers, past and present. We host an extraordinary network of booksellers, a diverse publishing culture and a vibrant community of thinkers. Being a City of Literature is about engaging both locally and globally. Books, writing and ideas flow through Melbourne; in our papers and online, on our TVs and radios, in our workplaces and homes.
The creation of the Wheeler Centre in late 2009 represented a culmination of these activities and a physical manifestation of our rich cultural heritage. The Centre, located in a wing of the State Library of Victoria, is a Victorian Government initiative and the centrepiece of Melbourne’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature. The Centre is a hub and home for writers and key literary organisations, including the Melbourne Writers Festival, Writers Victoria, Express Media, the Emerging Writers’ Festival, Australian Poetry and the Small Press Network. It provides shared meeting rooms and workshop spaces to foster collaboration, hot desks for short-term use by other writers and organisations as required and access to a large performance space with a seating capacity of 250.
The Wheeler Centre is responsible for programming a range of events across the year including the annual Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, the Children’s Book Festival and a range of other high profile ideas events. Take one look at their calendar you will see it is saturated with events including international speakers, book and magazine launches, speeches, debates, seminars, poetry recitals, book readings, symposia, awards and performances.
International guests hosted by the Wheeler Centre in its first few years include: Annie Proulx, Alain de Botton, Naomi Wolf, Bret Easton Ellis, Fatima Bhutto, Amos Oz, Jamie Oliver, Michael Palin and countless others.
The Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas presented its first event on 13 February 2010 at Melbourne Town Hall. Since then, it has staged and hosted almost 1,000 of its own events, supported and housed twice as many again; it has employed and presented over 1,200 writers, artists and thinkers; and has added to the conversations of more than 125,0000 audience members. In just over three years, the Victorian Government’s initial vision for the Centre has been borne out in spectacular terms. Imaginative and ambitious governance by the Centre’s Board, coupled with a dynamic and dedicated staff, ensured that Melbourne’s newest cultural institution quickly established a passionate and engaged audience and a reputation as a transformative addition to Australia’s books, writing and ideas scene.
A community of readers, writers and thinkers
As outlined above, as well as running its programme of events, the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas also provides an intellectual home for readers, writers and thinkers and a physical home for many leading literary organisations.
Writers Victoria: The leading provider of resources, information and skills development for Victorian writers, providing support and promoting writers, writers’ networks and the diverse writing cultures of Victoria. It runs more than 200 workshops, courses and seminars on all aspects of writing and publishing, engaging writers at all levels of development – from the emerging and developing to the well established.
Emerging Writers' Festival: Promotes the interests of emerging writers, to improve their opportunities for professional development and their engagement with the broader public. The Festival mixes emerging literary professionals with more established writers to forge a better understanding between the past and future of Australian writing, and to bring a high level of intellectual endeavour to all the Festival’s activities.
Small Press Network: A representative body for small and independent Australian publishers promoting independent publishing and supporting the principle of diversity within the publishing industry.
Express Media: Provides support and development opportunities for young Australians in writing and media. EM is recognised as the peak organisation for young writers in Australia.
Australian Poetry: A not-for-profit association established to promote reading, writing and publishing activities associated with Australian poetry in all of its forms. It aims to strengthen the presence and profile of Australian poetry within Australia and abroad, as well as promoting the writing, reading, and appreciation of poetry as an integral part of personal and community life.
Melbourne Writers Festival: An internationally acclaimed festival that takes place yearly at Federation Square and selected venues around Melbourne. Featuring writers from around the world, MWF celebrates some of the world’s finest writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.
Saward Dawson and the Wheeler Centre
Saward Dawson provides audit services to the Wheeler Centre. But as with many other not-for-profit organisations there are additional areas where our expert team are able to provide assistance. We have been able to assist the Wheeler Centre with their eligibility for concessions and obligations as well as keeping the board informed of the impact of the various not-for-profit reforms being proposed and implemented by the Government.
We have also been able to assist with the automation of their management reporting function to ensure that it is both efficient and effective. We pride ourselves on our ability to work with our clients to ensure they get maximum value out of our professional relationship.
The Wheeler Centre is a community that is engaging people locally and globally through writing, thinking and communication. Through their year-round programme of talks and lectures, readings and debates, they invite you to join the conversation. Visit their website at www.wheelercentre.com.