Media City York

By this time next week, York will know if it has joined an elite group. Only three cities have been recognised as UNESCO city of media of arts and York is bidding to be the fourth. After several months of baited breaths and crossed fingers, the wait is nearly over.

The bid, originally devised by cultural partnership organisation York@Large and backed by the City Council, was submitted on the 20th of March this year.

If successful, York will be the UK’s first city to gain the prestigious status, and would sit alongside Lyon and Enghien-les-Bains in France, and Sapporo, Japan.

By Graeme Smith

Although not an immediately obvious candidate, our fair city has a hidden depth when it comes to the media arts. As the bid itself puts it:


“For two millennia, York has been the meeting point for the ideas and creativity of the world.”


York’s cultural community is made up of 7,495 business, employing almost 60,000 people in disciplines such as music, performing, visual arts, publishing, film, design and others. Take for example Inspired Youth, a social enterprise that uses digital video and arts to get through to particularly hard-to-reach young people.


York Universities and colleges have invested over £100m into media arts facilities and resources in the past decade, including York Uni’s impressive Ron Cooke Hub, a £20m, 7000 sq ft ‘melting pot’ for creative engagement and enterprise.

Support York’s bid to become a UNESCO City of Media Arts

via York City Council’s Youtube channel


We at York Calling are always particularly interested in festivals and events, and York has unique offerings in spades. There’s the recently completed BAFTA-accredited Aesthetica Short Film Festival for one (you can see our round-up of ithere, by the way), and who doesn’t love a bit of Illuminating York to brighten up a dreary autumnal evening?


And did you know that the classic BAFTA award-winning computer game Broken Sword was created by the York-basedRevolution Software?


We could go on, but if you want to know more it’s all in the bid. If you care to look, you’ll see why York has a pretty decent chance of being recognised. When asked about the bid, Councillor James Alexander, leader of City of York Council, said:

“Winning this designation would put York in the international spotlight as a key destination for creative firms and practitioners to operate and do business with. It will serve as a catalyst for new investment, connections, exchanges and ideas being shared with York from across the globe.”

We think, win or no, we’re all pretty lucky to be creative and living in a place like York.

York will find out if it has been recognised as a UNESCO city of media arts by 30 November 2014