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Bristol secures exceptional award grant for European Green Capital 2015 Projects

  • Date: 17 June 2014
  • Area: South West
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Arts Council England National portfolio organisation Bristol Cultural Development Partnership (BCDP) has been awarded £744,564 through our Exceptional awards programme to deliver an extraordinary arts programme as part of Bristol 2015 when the city is European Green Capital.

The exceptional award fund was set up so that arts organisations could respond to extraordinary one-off opportunities with projects that are nationally significant.  Bristol is the first ever UK city to be named European Green Capital and this award - the largest yet provided through our Exceptional funds - will support six projects in 2015. Each project will attract some of the best artists in all forms from around the world to work with Bristol's artists.

The funding is the result of a bid created jointly with Bristol 2015 Ltd and will help achieve one of the core aims of Bristol 2015, which is to make sustainable living accessible and easy to understand. The Bristol 2015 arts and culture projects will play a central part in helping people see these complicated topics in a new light.

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol said: 'This is more great news for Bristol and a clear endorsement from the Arts Council of our determination to maintain investment in arts and culture.  As a sector it has a hugely positive impact on people's lives and the local economy, providing all sorts of opportunities not just for enjoyment, but for training and jobs.

'We want to be a city which enriches people's lives and takes on major projects with a sense of fun and inclusivity.  This was a major factor in awarding us the title of European Green Capital, and I know it's a spirit which the Arts Council fully appreciates. I'm hugely grateful to them.'

The six projects supported through the Exceptional Fund are:

The Festival of the Future City
Produced by Bristol Festival of Ideas

A year-long programme of work and the largest debate ever about the future of the city, bringing together thinkers, writers, artists, think-tanks, governments and the public. The festival will look at the future sustainable, resilient city, and aspects of city life - creating, living, working, educating, playing and developing - culminating in a four-day festival in October 2015.

Theaster Gates Bristol Residency
Led by Theaster Gates and produced by Situations

Situations will commission the first major UK project by Theaster Gates, one of the most sought-after American artists of his generation, a charismatic leader and bold visionary. Gates' Bristol project begins with a provocative proposition - what might an alternative arena look like for Bristol? As a counterpoint to the city's new arena planned for 2017, Gates asks how we might use local resources to build and programme an arena using (and re-using) the city's own skills and materials, artistic talent and creative drive.

Richard Long 70th Anniversary Solo Exhibition with a new commission
Commissioned by Bristol 2015 and Arnolfini

A large-scale exhibition that celebrates Bristol-based artist Richard Long, who has his 70th birthday in 2015. The exhibition will present a selection of Long's different forms of working together with documents, videos and publications. The exhibition will include new work created specifically for the exhibition.  Long, who won the Turner prize in 1989, is considered to be among the most important artists of his generation.

The Drowned World
Co-produced by Vesturport and Bristol Old Vic

Audiences will walk through a labyrinth made from shipping containers in which every compartment - some full of water, some partially filled - tells a story about the world after a catastrophic flood. Outside will be an open air theatre for live performances of bands and theatre productions.

The Bristol Blue Whale
Led by Herbert Girardet, Kenny Young, Artists Project Earth and Bristol 2015

The creation of a life-size 'sculpture' of a Blue Whale presenting the beauty of ocean life, and the growing human threats to it, located in Bristol Harbourside. It will be made of fibreglass and recycled plastics waste, and created by local artists and community arts, environmental and digital arts organisations. At the end of 2015 the whale will be disassembled and taken to Paris to become a key feature at COP 21, the concluding international climate conference.

Luke Jerram
A special commission for Luke Jerram and the National Trust

Simon Cook, chair, Bristol Cultural Development Partnership and assistant mayor for culture, said: 'BCDP has always seen the environment as part of culture and this builds on many years of work in the city from the creation of At-Bristol to the Festival of Ideas. Culture is central to Bristol 2015. This award will help create six major new arts projects taking place through the year involving all art forms and artists and writers, celebrating the role of arts in the environment and posing challenges to us all about the way we live our lives and our responsibilities for a better future for all and the planet.'

Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England added: 'Arts Council England funds a range of programmes designed to deliver the ambitions set out in Great art and culture for everyone, our strategic framework for the arts and culture.  However, we recognise that, very occasionally, there is a one-off opportunity to create a project of such ambition and with such national and international impact that it sits outside the normal funding routes.

'The Exceptional award recognises this opportunity and so we are delighted to be able to support Bristol Cultural Development Partnership and Bristol 2015 with a grant of £744,564. 

'This is an extraordinarily exciting and ambitious year-long series of events that puts arts and culture right at the heart of Bristol's year as European Green Capital.  The programme we are supporting will place the green agenda on a more creative and contemporary platform that really engages everyone - artists, audiences and particularly children and young people - in celebrating sustainability and future ways of living.'

This award complements that provided by the British Government who recently awarded £7m to the city for Bristol 2015.  

Find more information on Exceptional awards here and on Green Capital here.