Barcelona has always had a strong commitment towards arts and creativity. It hosts a number of literary celebrations, including ‘The Day of the Book and the Rose’, ‘The Kosmopolis Festivals’, ‘Poetry Week’ or ‘The Week of the Catalan Book’ amongst others. Barcelona is also a UNESCO City of Literature.
Barcelona was one of the cities present at ICORN’s Founding Meeting in 2006. Prior to this, the City of Barcelona was one of the oldest members of the previous Cities of Asylum Network (INCA) until its dissolution in 2005. Barcelona, therefore, welcomed the creation of ICORN as it continued the Member Cities’ ability to offer safe havens to persecuted writers and provide them with a stable and safe cultural environment to stimulate their creative activities.
In the ICORN Founding Meeting, Raffaella Salierno, Director of the Guest Writer Programme of Catalan PEN, was elected on the ICORN Board, representing Barcelona City of Refuge. She served as ICORN Board member until 2013.
In November 2007, Barcelona and Catalan PEN hosted the ICORN Network Meeting under the slogan ‘Writing without Fear: Freedom of Expression’. Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer delivered the keynote speech with the title ‘The Image and the Word’. In addition, the 2007 ICORN Network Meeting saw the official launch of ‘Shahrazad’- a five-year cooperation project between the EU and the ICORN Member Cities of Barcelona, Brussels, Frankfurt, Norwich, Stockholm, and Stavanger.
The City of Barcelona welcomed its first ICORN Resident, the Algerian novelist, journalist, and poet Salem Zenia in 2007 and since then has hosted a number of other creatives. You can find more information on them below.