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Key role for University in city arts drive

We are a key player in York’s new designation as a UNESCO City of Media Arts, an accolade announced this week to mark the city’s growing digital arts scene.

The University makes a major contribution to York’s growing reputation as one of the world’s most creative cities. Staff and students in academic departments including Theatre, Film and Television, Music, English and Related Literature, Computer Science, Electronics, Sociology and Biology already enrich York’s cultural life.


Volunteers mark the UNESCO Media City of Arts designation
Support departments such as Research and Enterprise help to facilitate the knowledge transfer mechanism which turns that creativity into economic growth.

Many of our buildings provide a platform for the city’s cultural offering. These include the £20 million Ron Cooke Hub for creative enterprise on the University’s campus extension at Heslington East and the new £30 million Department of Theatre, Film and Television nearby which also houses Heslington Studios, its commercial arm.

Creative energy

University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Koen Lamberts, said: “York’s designation as a UNESCO City of Media Arts is great news. It is recognition at an international level of the creative energy that drives this city. The University has invested significantly in the arts and humanities in recent years as well as in the digital technology that complements it. We shall continue to work with our partners to ensure that York continues to grow as a media arts hub.”

The city is already a leading destination for creative and digital businesses: it is the largest growth area of the city’s economy, benefiting from significant investment in supporting infrastructure in recent years.

Charles Cecil, founder of York-based Revolution Software and chair of the University’s Theatre, Film and Television Advisory Board, said: “Media Arts encourages people to share, communicate and experience art in new ways – it’s a thread that connects people, not just on a local but global scale.

“The city is an exceptional and inspiring place to live and work, embracing its past whilst also celebrating the present, making it the best possible environment to foster and develop creativity and stimulate the imagination.”

Digital arts

Kersten England, chief executive of City of York Council, added: “This designation recognises all of the people involved in York’s vibrant digital arts scene: computer games designers, digital archivists, film producers, light artists, online publishers and many people who play a supporting role.”

York is now putting into action an ambitious and inclusive 2015-16 Plan to encourage even more participation and enjoyment of the arts in many different forms.  Major projects include an international programme of cultural festivals showcasing Media Arts and advancement of plans to build a new Digital & Media Arts Centre in the city’s historic Guildhall, blending creative invention, participation and industry.

The permanent designation secures York’s entry into the Creative Cities Network, creating new exchanges with 68 other leading creative cities across the world and new opportunities for its practitioners and researchers on an international scale. York’s involvement in the network will be co-ordinated by the city’s new marketing and business development partnership, Make It York.