Lyon has become the first French city to join a United Nations network of cities set up to help promote their cultural, social and economic development in diverse fields ranging from literature and cinema to gastronomy and folk art.Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), announced yesterday that Lyon has been selected as the tenth member of the Creative Cities Network. It is also the first in the network to be designated as a “City of Media Arts.”Lyon’s long-standing experience with digital media and culture, particularly digital games, was critical to the decision by a panel of experts from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to accept the French city’s application, UNESCO said in a statement. Many companies that specialize in this field are based in Lyon.The city’s public sector also devotes up to 20 per cent of its cultural funding to media arts, while Lyon itself is renowned for its annual festivals, including the Festival of Lights (Fête de la Lumière) and the Sound Nights (Nuits Sonores), a music event.The Creative Cities Network was launched by UNESCO in October 2004 to give cities in both rich and poor countries a platform to present their cultural assets and an opportunity to exchange and explore the know-how, information and experience of other cities, particularly in maintaining cultural heritage.Network members can be designated in one of seven categories: literature, cinema, music, crafts and folk art, design, media arts and gastronomy.Edinburgh in the United Kingdom has been appointed as a City of Literature, Italy’s Bologna and Spain’s Seville are recognized for music and Popayán in Colombia has been designated for gastronomy. Montreal, Buenos Aires and Berlin were chosen as Cities of Design and Aswan in Egypt and Santa Fé in the United States were selected in the field of crafts and folk art.Another 20 cities around the world have applied to join the Creative Cities Network and are awaiting evaluation. 28 June 2008Lyon has become the first French city to join a United Nations network of cities set up to help promote their cultural, social and economic development in diverse fields ranging from literature and cinema to gastronomy and folk art.