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York Culture Awards Launched

Sponsored by health and wellbeing provider Benenden

Plans to recognise and reward outstanding innovation and creativity within the cultural sector in York took a leap forward this week, when the new Culture Awards were launched tonight (Thursday 14 January) at the Hotel du Vin. Sponsored by York-based Benenden, The York Culture Awards, which will be held in December 2016, will celebrate, retrospectively, quality and excellence in the arts and cultural sector.

Jane Lady Gibson, Chairman, Steve Brown, Managing Director, Make It York and Lawrence Christensen, Marketing Director, Benenden, were joined by guest speakers Professor Chris Bailey, Visiting Professor, University of York St John and BBC Radio York’s Breakfast Presenter, Georgey Spanswick, to formally launch the awards on 14 January 2016 and announce that entries are now officially open. The Right Honourable Lord Mayor Cllr Sonja Crisp also attended and was joined by the Civic Party.

Jane Lady Gibson said, ‘York has a wealth of culture; we have award-winning museums, brilliant theatres, international music festivals and outstanding media arts organisations. Our cultural businesses and our local communities are producing works of the highest quality that make York a great place to live but also inspire and attract people to the city. We believe talent across our cultural sector should be recognised and by launching these awards, our aim is to raise the profile of the breadth and quality of work going on here.’

Lawrence Christensen, Group Marketing Director at Benenden, said: “Benenden has been based in York for just over a quarter of a century, so we know just how vital the cultural sector is to the local economy we are a part of. Our city’s culture plays an important part in bringing together communities, which is an ethos we have much in common with.

We’re delighted Make It York and its partners have recognised the need for a set of awards dedicated to those who help make York the unique cultural city that it is. We’re delighted to be on board to support the awards and look forward to hearing some of the fantastic work that goes on all year round.’

Professor Chris Bailey, Chair of the Judging Panel said, ‘This new awards ceremony is an opportunity for York to celebrate all that is best in culture and creativity in our city. The awards, which cover every aspect of art and culture, will recognise achievements by individual practitioners, businesses, educational establishments, communities and cultural organisations. We want to shout about the sheer quality of creative talent that is here, and we hope these awards, open to everyone, will inspire people to submit their work.’

Free to enter, there are eleven Awards for the taking including; Culture Partnership, Community Project or Event, Cultural Champion, Cultural Education, Cultural Equality and Diversity, Cultural Event or Festival, Film, Performing Artist/s, Production, Visual Artist and Writer. Entries will be open until 30 September 2016 for cultural activity which has taken place between July 2015 and September 2016. Throughout the year Make It York will be promoting the Awards on Twitter @makeityork with the hashtag #YorkCA16.

Georgey Spanswick, BBC Radio York, said, ‘Since moving to York I’ve been inspired by the cultural diversity and sheer talent we’ve got here in the city. We’re delighted to support this new Awards ceremony and we’re confident there will be some incredible stories to tell throughout the year from the grass roots up and we’re excited to get the word out about the wealth of culture on offer here.’

The Awards will be judged by an independent panel including, Professor Chris Bailey, York St John University, Lawrence Christensen, Marketing Director, Benenden, Dr Fiona Thompson, York St John University, Gill Greaves, Relationship Manager, Museums Yorkshire at Arts Council England, Colin Jackson, Owner, Creative Learning Partnerships, Alan Millard, Chief Operating Officer, Hiscox, Judith Buchanan, Professor of Film and Literature, University of York and Charles Hutchinson, Arts Editor, The Press. To enter the York Culture Awards visit the website at


For further information please contact:

Kay Hyde – Head of PR and Corporate Communications – Make It York
Direct Line: 01904 554451
Mobile: 07506 048852

Katie Parsons – Senior Communications Executive – Make It York
Direct Line: 01904 554436

Notes to editors:

In December 2015 York celebrated its one year anniversary of being designated a UNESCO City of Media Arts; In Fog and Falling Snow was heralded a triumph, delivered by York Theatre Royal with 200 community actors; the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) opened placing York at the forefront of British Studio ceramics and the Living Heritage Centre opened at the Bar Convent. And on 20th January, at the York Tourism Conference, some of the city’s top tourist attractions will also announce their plans for the New Year, including details about the return of the Flying Scotsman at the National Railway Museum, York Theatre Royal’s re-opening and plans for York Mystery Plays at York Minster.

Make It York (York’s Destination Organisation) has an overarching remit to market the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally - as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, stud, work and do business. The remit covers leisure and business tourism, city centre management, festivals and events, business support and inward investment.

Visit York is a part of Make It York and is the leisure tourism brand
Under the brand Visit York, Make It York’s aim is to market York as a must-see world-class destination to the leisure visitor and ensure investment to develop the quality of tourism in York

Key tourism facts:
6.7 million visitors annually, £573 million total visitor spend, supporting 19,000 jobs

Benenden is the trading name of The Benenden Healthcare Society Limited and its subsidiaries. Based in York, their vision is to be the leading health & wellbeing mutual community in the UK.

The Benenden Healthcare Society Limited is a friendly society, founded in 1905. It offers affordable, discretionary healthcare services that complement rather than replace the care offered by the NHS. For £8.45 per person, per month, members can request a range of healthcare services, with no exclusions for pre-existing medical conditions or upper age restrictions. It is a five-time winner of ‘Most Trusted’ healthcare provider at the 2011-2015 Moneywise Customer Service Awards.