“Bristol’s four UNESCO world class designations help show what an exceptional place it is. Bristol is brimming with diverse innovation, talent and creativity. Its One City Plan, aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, is helping make it an even better place to live.” – James Omer Bridge, Secretary-General, UK National Commission for UNESCO
Last week we welcomed senior representatives from UNESCO to Bristol, including the UK Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, Laura Davies, and Secretary General and Chief Executive of the UK Commission for UNESCO, James Bridge. They were accompanied by senior representatives connected with UNESCO policy from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.
As a specialist global agency, UNESCO’s role is to support peace and security by building international cooperation in education, sciences, culture, communication and information. It has a global portfolio of designations that promote sustainable development, protect culture and foster peace. UNESCO’s programmes contribute to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) so they clearly align with our One City Plan and sustainability aims.
Uniquely, Bristol has four UNESCO links; designated a UNESCO Creative City of Film and a UNESCO Learning City, as well as Memory of the World status for Brunel’s Screw Propeller Report (housed at the SS Great Britain) and a UNESCO Chair in Inclusive, Good Quality Education, Professor Leon Tikly at the University of Bristol. This important relationship forms part of Bristol’s wider International Strategy. Our goal is to work with the world for local and global benefit, achieving our vision of a stronger, more inclusive city, and providing leadership on the global development goals. Aligning with UNESCO adds impetus to key pieces of work and connects us with international city networks.
During the visit, we demonstrated how, being a UNESCO City of Film unites partners working across film and moving image education, culture, production, research and technology. A roundtable meeting brought UNESCO representatives together with key stakeholder organisations, including Aardman Animations, BFI Academy SW, Blak Wave Productions, Encounters Festival, Latent Pictures, MyWorld/University of Bristol, UWE Bristol, and colleagues from the West of England Combined Authority.
UNESCO delegates met with Mayor Rees, Deputy Mayor, Cllr Asher Craig and Black South West Network representatives to discuss the city’s important memorialisation and legacy work. They heard about the work taking place under the One City Plan to deliver against the UN SDGs, and visited The Bottle Yard Studios and the SS Great Britain to see Brunel’s revolutionary Screw Propeller Report.
The City of Film designation forms part of the council’s Culture and Creative Industries strategic work. Now in its sixth year, it has become a vehicle for citywide and international partnerships that bring social value, as well as economic impact.
The impact of having the City of Film title is demonstrated in our most recent Membership Monitoring Report which details inspiring projects that have advanced the city’s film and moving image industry throughout the first four years of our City of Film status. It focuses on local and international developments and highlights advances made by the many committed city partners who strive to improve industry representation and access, enrich audience experience and nurture the creative talent base.
In recent years, work under the City of Film designation has successfully supported a range of initiatives, including:
- COVID recovery sector interventions,
- the development of Channel 4’s South West Writers scheme,
- the first ever Bristol and Bath Screen Summit
- the opening of TBY2, The Bottle Yard Studios’ expansion facility powered by more than 2,300 solar panels.
Internationally, Bristol’s creative projects are gaining important recognition through the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (comprising almost 300 global cities). Last year, CARGO Movement’s People’s Platform was selected by UNESCO as an example of good practice and presented as part of the 2022 Annual UNESCO Creative Cities Network Conference in Santos, Brazil. The presentation to an audience of global city leaders sparked conversation about how Bristol uses film and moving image to better understand the past, present and future of our city.
Last week’s UNESCO visit was a chance to showcase this work and build on the links we have established through the UNESCO designations and our One City Plan. We look forward to continuing this important relationship and harnessing the benefits that it brings to the city.