Stesha Brandon has long been one of the most passionate advocates for literary events in Seattle, first in her role as events coordinator at University Book Store and then as program director at Town Hall Seattle. Today’s announcement that she is the new interim executive director of Seattle’s City of Literature organization is great news. Brandon brings to the job a steady hand, a proven commitment to the community, and a keen sense of what Seattle’s literary scene needs, as well as a much-needed critical eye and a sterling record of professionalism. Brandon agreed to an e-mail interview about her plans for the future of Seattle’s City of Literature bid.
Congratulations on the new (interim) gig! Can you tell us a little bit about what your duties entail?
Thanks! I am going to be working on deepening the organization's ties to our local and international literary communities, heading up several program initiatives, leading the writing of the new bid, and then working with the board to launch the search for the permanent Executive Director.
You’ve worked at University Book Store and at Town Hall Seattle. Have you learned anything from those jobs that you'll be bringing to your new role?
Definitely! one of the cool things about the Seattle City of Literature project is that it's about building understanding through the creative economy — so I'll be using my background and the community ties that I built in both the for-profit world at University Book Store, and the non-profit world at Town Hall Seattle. Ultimately, Seattle City of Literature wants to support the literary and arts ecosystem in Seattle, and that means including all different kinds of contributors to the creative economy.
Are we applying for UNESCO accreditation again this year?
We have been encouraged to apply for the designation and we'll be pursuing that when the next application period opens. Currently, it looks like we'll be applying for designation in early 2017.
What does Seattle get out of this program?
Being designated as one of UNESCO's Creative Cities will connect us to a network of cities internationally, and will open up opportunities for Seattle writers and publishers to collaborate across borders and disciplines; for our readers to discover new writers; and for all of us to engage in a cultural exchange of ideas.
What’s next for City of Literature?
We are working with the City of Seattle and the Office of Arts & Culture to provide opportunities for our member organizations and endorsers to receive equity training, designed to be consistent with the Office of Civil Rights and the Office of Arts & Culture standards.
We're also pursuing a writers’ exchange with members of the UNESCO Creative Cities and Sister Cities networks.
And we will be laying the groundwork for a study that examines how Seattle’s literary community impacts the city, citizens, and economy. I'm thrilled to be joining the organization, and committed to supporting the work of Seattle's robust literary community.