The City of Stavanger, Norway’s first City of Refuge for persecuted writers, dates back to 1125 with evidence that the area was settled as far back as the end of the Ice Age, 9,000 B.C. In more recent times it has been a trading port, a canning hub and in our day a centre for petroleum-related activity. Diminutive on an international scale, the city is Norway’s number four and 1 in 5 inhabitants are of foreign extraction. It is a multicultural community, sporting a world-class symphonic orchestra and concert house, a busy schedule of festivals – notably the annual Kapittel International Festival of Literature and Freedom of Speech – scenic and outdoor appeal and a mentality of staying the course. Other annual literary and artistic events in the city include Maijazz and “Litteraturuka” – Annual Literature Week @ Café Sting.
Stavanger was a European Capital of Culture in 2008, presenting events and activities to people of all occupations under the motto “Open Port”, echoing its long-term status as an ICORN City of Refuge. It has a rich and diverse literary heritage and a Cultural Centre in its walkable urban centre that hosts a plethora of popular activities to inform, challenge and bring people together.
Stavanger received its first guest writer in 1996 and became host to the administrative headquarters of the newly formed ICORN in 2006. The city provides work facilities for its ICORN writers within the Cultural Centre Sølvberget. In 2013, the city welcomed Elahe Rahroniya, a writer, visual artist and filmmaker from Iran as its ninth ICORN guest writer and looks forward to receiving a new writer in 2015.