York becomes UK's first UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts

A gathering of people at the launch of York Creative City

Following its successful bid in December 2014, York celebrated becoming the newest UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts with an event at the city’s Merchant Adventurers’ Hall on 8 January. The event featured speeches from the Lord Mayor of York, Cllr Ian Gillies, Charles Cecil, founder of Revolution Games, and Miles Watts of MilesTone Films, highlighting the role York has in much of their work. The designation acknowledges the growing success of York’s creative industries, which have flourished in recent years with events such as the Illuminating York Festival, and large-scale investment projects such as the £20 million Ron Cooke Creative Hub.

As well as bringing together local artists, film-makers, software designers, researchers, and business leaders, the event was a chance to reveal the initial events calendar for the creative city. Amongst these was an open day at York’s DeGrey Rooms featuring talks from leading media artists, production companies and digital entrepreneurs, which took place on the 31 January.

The Creative Cities network has 69 members worldwide, of which only 7 others have been appointed UNESCO Creative Cities of Media Arts. The designation supports developing creative industries, broadening access to culture, raising urban living standards and increasing public participation in civil society, through the growth of digital and electronic technologies.

Creative and digital businesses have been the biggest area of economic growth in York in recent years, with the city’s two universities jointly investing £100 million in the sector. It is hoped that the designation will expand the digital economy even more, with plans for it to increase from £165 million to £350 million across the next decade.