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News release - Issued by Make It York

illuminating York goes biennial

York’s popular illuminating York Festival will go biennial, Make It York has announced today and it will become a centrepiece in the city’s new international media arts festival, the York Mediale. Planned for October 2018, the York Mediale will feature large scale, high profile commissions, a wide range of performances, installations and workshops, all pushing the boundaries of art, technology and participation. The announcement means that illuminating York will not take place in October 2017.

York Mediale 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, which was awarded in December 2014. Since then, Make It York has led a programme of work behind the scenes to help turn the idea for a high profile international media arts festival into a reality.

Commenting on the announcement, Steve Brown, Managing Director, Make It York said, “York Mediale will be a celebration and a showcase of the city’s UNESCO City of Media Arts accreditation and Illuminating York will be one of the key highlights. This means we’ll be able to pool resources and budget to create something exceptional for York. It’s crucial we use what funding we have to create quality festivals and the time is right to think differently about illuminating York, ensuring it meets increasing audience expectations. Running the event biennially, as a key part of the York Mediale will enable us to do that and to focus on delivering a world class event in 2018.”

illuminating York was first held in 2009 and was developed to encourage visitors and residents to discover York in a new light, lighting up some of York’s most beautiful and historic buildings. The Festival will now be an integral part of York’s new Mediale, led by Creative Director, Tom Higham and delivered 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.

In applying for designation as a UNESCO 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. Mr Brown added, “The biggest light festival in the UK is Durham’s Lumiere which happens every two years and is widely regarded as one of the best. Delivering quality festivals needs time, resource and funding and our aim now is to focus on creating the very best international festival for York in 2018. Our commitment to enhancing illuminating York will be a crucial part of that.”


Notes to Editors

About illuminating York

• Illuminating York is a four day festival. It was developed twelve years ago and has seen over fifty site specific artworks commissioned for York
• It is supported by Arts Council England and is managed by Make It York on behalf of a city-wide steering group
• The principal funder of the festival is Arts Council England, with funding from ticketing and private sponsors
• The festival is designed to showcase York in a different light, transforming some of the city’s most beautiful and iconic buildings
• In 2018 illuminating York will be a key part of the York Mediale, celebrating York’s status as a UNESCO City of Media Arts

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.