‘York must provide arts and culture for the many, not the few’

Best Cultural Event or Festival Winners in the 2017 awards – York Festival of Ideas
10 Sep 2018 @ 6.55 pm
| Entertainment

The York Culture Awards are back – celebrating the best artistic endeavour in the city.

Free to enter, there are 15 award categories, covering everything from Outstanding Community Arts Project through Outstanding Busker to Cultural Champion.

You can nominate yourself or someone else for an award. The closing date is September 28.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony hosted by York Theatre Royal in November, with patron Mark Herman – director of films including Brassed Off and Little Voice – in attendance.

In the run up to the deadline we are asking York Culture Award judges for their thoughts on the artistic scene in the city.

Today it’s the turn of Dr Fiona Thompson who is lead judge in the Outstanding Cultural Festival (Small) category

‘There is a vibrancy about York’s cultural scene’

Everything Is Possible, staged partly outside York Minster. Photograph: Anthony Robling
What makes York’s cultural scene special?
For me it is the sheer range of events. There is a vibrancy about York and its cultural scene ranging from the amateur to the professional, the old to the new, the conventional to the innovative but with a focus on accessibility.

What are you looking for in an outstanding cultural festival?
Something for everyone and a festival that is uniquely York – that when people talk about it, it can only have taken place here because of our history, our geography, our residents and our visitors.

What culture in York have you most enjoyed this year?
So much to choose from and depends how we count the year as a standout for me is from June 2017 and the Everything is Possible production at York Theatre Royal. It touched all the bases – our history, our geography but also having broader connotations. As a community-based piece it enabled York to own this important piece of history.

As a proud member of the York St John University community the annual carol service is always a very special moment with the Minster alive with the energy and performances from our students, including the wonderful Communitas Choir. Walking out of the Minster on a cold winter’s night to see the Christmas lights of York was truly magical this year.

What is the strangest or most memorable cultural event you have ever seen in York?
David Ogle’s piece for Illuminating York based in the Quad at York St John was exquisite. With musicians and dancers interacting with the neon trees, it produced a land and soundscape that was true fantasy – Narnia-like on a cold, clear November night. I spent hours just looking and listening, mesmerised by both the installation and the many, many people who came to experience the light.

However, I also think the Culture Award show itself is worthy of mention – having this opportunity to celebrate the rich diversity of our cultural scene is memorable, but I don’t think it is strange!

What do you think York’s cultural scene is missing?
More opportunities to celebrate!

What are your hopes and fears for York’s cultural scene in the future?
That it continues to grow, supported by strategic leadership (as provided by the Cultural Leaders Group), providing access to the arts and culture for the many, not the few. I am an optimist and have no fear for its survival because there are too many people committed to fighting for arts and culture in York, who recognise its importance as a means of bringing our society, our community, together.

Dr Thompson is deputy vice chancellor, learning and teaching, at York St John University

York Culture Awards

The York Culture Awards celebrates excellence in the arts and culture sector and rewards outstanding innovation, creativity and quality.

They are an opportunity to showcase our city-wide cultural achievements and future plans, as well as to inspire and motivate organisations, businesses and educational institutions to make York’s cultural offer stronger.