Located in the south-west of France, Angoulême is a city steeped in literary tradition dating back to the time of Adhémar de Chabannes in the 11th century. Throughout the 16th century, Angoulême became a prominent papermaking hub and its key position as a city of literature was strengthened during the Renaissance thanks to the patronage of the Valois family. In response to a struggling of the publishing industry in the early 1970s, Angoulême organized the first International Comic Strip Festival with the aim of promoting growth within the sector. Since then, the comic book publishing has experienced strong growth in France and this world-renowned event now plays a vital part in the city’s economy with an estimated direct economic benefit of nearly US$ 40 million from the Festival alone.
By way of encouraging creativity within the city, Angoulême has also hosted a further array of festivals including the French-Language Film Festival and the Courant 3D Festival. Such events aim to draw like-minded people together to share ideas, think creatively and present their art. Over 200,000 visitors, 2,000 writers and 1,200 publishers from all over the world attend these events, endorsing Angoulême’s status as a genuine international literary hub.
Now positioned as a centre of excellence thanks to its renowned higher education facilities for arts and comic book creation, the continued success of Angoulême’s comic book industry is supported by a number of initiatives offering artists and writers financial assistance and creative spaces. Within the streets, art has been beautifully integrated through a number of urban development projects in which murals and painted walls were created. As well as developing school initiatives for young writers, the local government also hopes to improve the position of comic books within the literary field by working with the French Ministry of Culture, and drive change within the industry.
As a Creative City of Literature, Angoulême envisages:
- leading international discussions on Comic Art;
- sharing know-how on Comic Art by supporting the development of events abroad, and attending the Network of Comic Strip Festivals;
- developing hosting capacity for creation, including writers’ residencies and networks of writers;
- protecting creation on the international stage through the International Rights Market;
- strengthening social ties with young people through Comic Art;
- defending women-led creation within the comic book industry;
- promoting creation and heritage with an international dimension;
- facilitating access to Comics-based university courses; and
- organizing urban spatial planning through Comic Art.