Anna Cohn Orchard

Exeter announces inaugural Director for City of Literature on World Book Day

The director appointed to drive forward Exeter’s City of Literature programme said she is excited about the opportunity to grow and promote the richness of Exeter’s literary arts talents.

Anna Cohn Orchard joins Exeter’s UNESCO City of Literature programme as its inaugural Director. Anna will lead the programme as part of the city-wide initiative and team based at the University of Exeter.

In November 2019 Exeter was given UNESCO City of Literature status. It joins a global network of 39 cities that specialize in Literature.

Anna joins Exeter’s programme from a background rich in literature​ and partnership-building​.

She began her career interning at Scholastic under David Levithan in New York before becoming Assistant Editor. Anna ran the US celebration of Roald Dahl's centenary in 2016, designing immersive campaigns in partnership with businesses, bookshops and nature organisations that attracted thousands of participants nationwide.

At the Museum of Food and Drink in Brooklyn, Anna turned public programming into a robust and successful outfit, creating and producing sold out event series such as Eat*Drink*Read and Global Cultures, Global Cuisines.

Anna returned to Exeter to do her Master’s at the University of Exeter, having grown up here as a child. She received her B.A. in English Literature from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. A love of literature runs deep in the family; Anna’s Jewish-American father was a bookseller who owned bookshops around the world – including Anagram in Prague, Westside in Wells, and Logos in Amherst – and her older sister is the author Rachel Cohn.

Anna said of her appointment: "I'm honoured to be Exeter’s first Director for the City of Literature, an initiative committed to well-being, inclusivity, and bolstering culture within the city and beyond. In these times of stress and uncertainty, we need to remember what makes humanity strong: a sense of place, a global and interconnected outlook, and an acknowledgement for the ways in which the arts speak to and for us.

”I'm looking forward to working with passionate community members, educators, organisations, and local businesses so that together we can grow and promote the richness of Exeter’s literary arts talents," she added.

Dom Jinks, Director of Exeter Culture, said: “I am delighted in Anna’s appointment. She brings with her excellent experience in literature and the arts, and as a past graduate of the University, a very good understanding of the city to help maximise this great opportunity.” 

Cllr Amal Ghusain, Lead Councillor for Culture and Communities, said: “I am thrilled that Exeter welcomes its first City of Literature Director. We very much hope that Anna’s appointment will help to lead the programme and establish strong connections with our city’s communities and stories to support resilience and wellbeing.”

Anna begins her new role later this month.

Date: 4 March 2021

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