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Leading Creativity: York Named UNESCO City of Media Arts

1st December 2014

A group of 25 volunteers from York’s media arts sector gather at the Eye of York to mark the UNESCO Media City of Arts designation, writing the word ‘York’ using torches and the ‘light graffiti’ technique, where a long camera exposure allows lines to be drawn in light.

A group of 25 volunteers from York’s media arts sector gather at the Eye of York to mark the UNESCO Media City of Arts designation, writing the word ‘York’ using torches and the ‘light graffiti’ technique, where a long camera exposure allows lines to be drawn in light.

Today the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova has designated York as a UNESCO City of Media Arts and the newest members of the Creative Cities Network, one of the world’s most sought-after accolades.

As a UNESCO City of Media Arts, York will now put into action an ambitious and inclusive plan for 2015-16 encouraging further participation and enjoyment of the arts in different form. 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.

“This clearly flies the flag for York’s bid to be the first port of call for media arts in the UK, and indeed, one of the most creative cities in the world," comments Kersten England, Chief Executive of City of York Council, which supported the application.

"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 already boasts a strong creative and digital sector, as the largest growth area in the city’s economy that has seen significant investment in supporting infrastructure in recent years. Charles Cecil MBE, founder of Revolution Software which is based in the city centre, commented, “York is becoming a media arts hub because it is an ideal international meeting point for ideas and creativity."

"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."

"You can walk through 1000 years of history on the streets of York, but still take advantage of the city’s rapid rail networks, meeting people in London or Edinburgh within two hours. ”

To achieve the status, cities have to demonstrate development of cultural and creative industries triggered by digital technology, successful media arts integration into urban life, and wider access to culture through digital technology development.

The permanent designation for York also secures the city entry into the Creative Cities Network, creative new exchanges and developing international cooperation with 68 other creative cities across the globe. Other newly designated cities of Media Arts include Gwangju (Republic of Korea), Linz (Austria), Dakar (Senegal) and Tel Aviv-Yafo (Israel).

York’s involvement in the network will be co-ordinated by the city’s new marketing and business development partnership, Make It York.

City of Media Arts
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