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New International Media Arts Festival – York Mediale – coming to the city in 2018

Exciting plans for a new international media arts festival will be outlined today (Thursday 2 March) at a meeting of the Guild of Media Arts. The festival, planned for October 2018, will feature large scale, high profile commissions, talent development programmes and a wide range of performances, installations and workshops, all pushing the boundaries of art, technology and participation. York Mediale, as the festival will be known, will take place every two years and builds on York’s status as the only UK city to have the UNESCO City of Media Arts designation. This was awarded in December 2014. Since then, Make It York, the city’s Destination Management Organisation, has led a programme of work behind the scenes, to help turn the idea for an international media arts festival into a reality.

Commenting on the announcement, Steve Brown, Managing Director of Make It York said, “York Mediale will help bring the UNESCO designation to life. It’s about grasping this opportunity that UNESCO status offers for York and showcasing York’s creative talent in areas such as digital art, gaming, film and computer animation. It’s a chance for York to shine and we hope as many people as possible from across York and Yorkshire will get involved.”

The festival will now be developed by Creative Director, Tom Higham, through a new community interest company, working closely with the York Guild of Media Arts and in partnership with a range of organisations across York, the UK and internationally. Key partners in the project include The University of York, York St John University, Make It York, York Museums Trust, National Railway Museum, City of York Council, Pilot Theatre, Science City York, Northern Film & Media and many more. The festival will be funded through a mix of support from the two universities, Make It York, City of York council, private sector support, sponsorship, as well as revenue generation through ticket sales.

“What has been refreshing is the way that organisations in the city have come together to ensure that the Mediale goes ahead and in a big way. It has been a galvanising moment for York and there’s a real determination to develop a festival of international significance,” said Steve Brown.

Every year UNESCO holds a conference for the 116 designated world creative cities and York will also be planning a bid to be the host city for this conference in 2020 to coincide with the second York Mediale festival. If successful, this could see York’s reputation for media arts raised significantly across the globe, when delegates from across Europe and further afield attend the event.

In announcing initial ideas for the festival, Tom Higham said, “York Mediale will be a celebration of digital art, performance, visual art, and everything in between. York provides a stunning backdrop for a cutting edge celebration of media art. The Mediale will highlight the creative technology sectors of film, TV, visual art, digital art, theatre, transmedia and multimedia performance, showcasing a quality of work never before seen in York, or in some cases, the UK.

Most importantly the festival will celebrate York itself, the communities, the citizens, the businesses, the forward thinking and talented people who were the main reason it was awarded the City of Media Arts designation by UNESCO.

We have already launched a major talent development programme in partnership with the University of York, are planning a major exhibition at York Art Gallery, numerous performances and installations at the National Railway Museum, a long term project in Tang Hall with Pilot Theatre, numerous large scale installations with artists from across the world and some ambitious plans for education projects across the city.“

Commenting on the developing plans, Mat Lazenby, Master of the Guild of Media Arts, said, “The talent development plans are extremely exciting, and in partnership with the Mediale and Science City York, we are delighted to be able to offer opportunities for local companies to participate in the festival. This is a golden opportunity to showcase the talent that we have in the city and to grow the creative sector.”

In applying for UNESCO status as a City of Media Arts, there was a clear ambition to highlight York’s contemporary strengths alongside its worldwide reputation as a place of great history and heritage.

“There is a not a city in the UK that isn’t trying to push its credentials as a digital and creative place of excellence. York is unique in having been awarded the City Of Media Arts designation in the UK and it would be negligent if we didn’t make something of this and use it to sell the city as a dynamic place to do business, to live, to visit and to study. The new Guild of Media Arts and the York Mediale are tangible developments for the opportunity York has been given through UNESCO,” said Steve Brown. ENDS

Notes to Editors

About Tom Higham
Tom Higham is a curator and creative producer with wide ranging experience of commissioning and producing cultural projects, festivals and events. He is the Creative Director of York Mediale, a Producer at Manchester International Festival, and has worked with artists, developers, designers, arts organisations and policy makers all over the world to curate and produce ambitious artworks and creative projects.

About the Guild of Media Arts
York’s first new trade guild for 700 years was launched in December 2015. Already with over 200 members, one of the key roles of the Guild is to be the custodians of the UNESCO City of Media Arts accreditation. The Master of the Guild is Mat Lazenby, Director of Lazenby Brown, a brand design agency based in York.

A definition of media arts
Media arts involves the integration of new media technologies into creative practice and social exchange. This includes disciplines such as video games, computer animation, digital and interactive art, sound art, film, television and theatre. In York it is activity partaken in by professional artists, designers, academics, researchers, enthusiasts, the general public and the voluntary sector.

About the UNESCO Creative Cities Network
The UNESCO Creative Cities Network was launched in 2004 to promote co-operation among cities which recognised creativity as a major factor in their urban development. As of 2017, there are 116 cities from 54 countries in the network. York is one of only 9 cities in the world with the City of Media Arts designation and the first and only city in the UK.

About Make It York
Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally - as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business. The company’s remit covers leisure and business tourism, city centre management, festivals and events, business support and inward investment.

About Science City York
Science City York is a part of Make It York and is business and innovation brand which supports the city and its surroundings’ creative, science and technology businesses. Under the Science City brand, Make It York’s aim is to promote York as a brilliant place to do business, helping to support business growth and innovation and to stimulate greater inward investment.