This Is The Year: UNESCO in York

By Aliz Tennant | 9th January 2015

The UNESCO Crowd

The UNESCO Crowd

Representatives from the creative and business sectors of York gathered in the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall last night to celebrate the designation of York as a UNESCO City of Media Arts.

Introduced by the Lord Mayor of York, Cllr Ian Gillies, the event was organised to gather together key members of York’s creative communities not just to celebrate, but to recognise what a UNESCO bid means for the city and to implement a plan to fully take advantage of the win.

Pilot Theatre’s Marcus Romer, who is celebrating the release of his feature film The Knife That Killed Me by Universal Pictures, introduced the evening’s speakers, Charles Cecil of Revolution Software and film director Miles Watts, who has made three feature films in the city including the serial killer comedy Whoops!, currently in cinemas nationally.

All the speakers noted the UNESCO win as significant and exciting but also highlighted the importance of making 2015 the year York raises its ambition and efforts to become a truly global, interconnected hub of creativity that builds on its existing talent.

Members of Screen Yorkshire, City of York Council, Orillo Cinema, Heavy Elephant Productions, Aesthetica, Green Screen Productions, Science City York, The Beautiful Meme and many other companies who have spent the past decade developing the business and creative arts in and out of York, were also in attendance.

I'm asked time and time again if there's a working film industry in York and in the past I've tentatively said 'Yes.' My answer this year is, 'There could be... if we really work hard.' - Miles Watts

The filmmaker went on to say that despite high profile film and TV companies using York as a film location, the city still was not fully capitalising on the wealth of talent it should be employing to attract film companies to York and ensuring they make use of York’s enormous resources, from facilities to hospitality.

There was a general sense of hope and excitement at the event about what the UNESCO bid could mean for York, and that the city’s residents needed to embrace an attitude of what they can do to make things happen, rather than what other people can do for them. Far from being a cultural ‘elite’, there was an attitude among the 100+ attendees that now is the time for co-operation and collaboration from everyone in York who wishes to be a part of its future: accessibility and sharing of resources being the main themes of the evening’s discussion.

Pilot’s Marcus Romer ended proceedings by stating that the UNESCO bid is a challenge laid down for everyone in York to step up their efforts to ensure 2015 marks the year that York truly earns and lives up to its mantle as an international city of culture.

The spotlight is on York. Now is the time to make things happen.

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