Making our great city regions greater through culture

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This has been a fantastic year for cultural activity at Bruntwood. Supporting the success and ambition of our regional cities has always been a key priority for us and through actively engaging with cultural projects we can work towards our purpose: to make our great city regions greater.

In 2017 we supported more initiatives than ever before, including RHS Flower Show Tatton Park and Manchester International Festival over the summer, and The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting this autumn, revealing its latest winners. As the year draws to a close we’re looking back at some key events in 2017:

Manchester International Festival
Manchester International Festival (MIF) 2017 marked 12 years of our partnership with the festival. To celebrate our partnership, we created MIF hubs across many of our buildings in Manchester, dressing them with MIF images and commissions. One of the most popular commissions, Lost Memories Dot Net, a video game created for the festival, was hosted in Neo’s reception area and became the only place where you could come and enjoy the game. We also hosted the Creative50, a myriad of young and emerging creatives from all disciplines who collaborated and created work in response to events at the festival.

RHS Flower Show Tatton Park
For the 2017 show in July, we created The Bruntwood Experiment; a garden that championed urban greening, whilst highlighting the resilient, adaptive plants that colonise our urban environments. All the plants that were used in the garden are often classed as weeds; we wanted to challenge this perception and show that beauty can be found in the most unlikely of places and how they can be used in different environments, such as homes and office spaces. We also used the space to host events by our partners City of Trees, the Royal Exchange Theatre, the Museum of Science and Industry and our customer, LEAF on Portland Street served up delicious drinks throughout the week. The Bruntwood Experiment will be rehomed at Manchester Science Park to continue and encourage the conversation around urban greening.

The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting
The 6th Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting awards ceremony took place in November at the Royal Exchange Theatre. Taking place every two years, the competition attracted nearly 2,000 entries in 2017, which the judging panel including Bruntwood Chairman Mike Oglesby, Russel T Davies (screenwriter), Alfred Enoch (actor) and Kirsty Lang (Frontrow) amongst others had to whittle down to ten finalists.
Timothy X Atack was revealed as the overall winner, for his play Heartworm, winning £16,000 and guaranteed production of the play. This was the 5th time he entered the competition, which is judged completely anonymously. As well the overall winner, there were three judges winners, all receiving £8,000 to develop the play; Tim Foley for his play Electric Rosary, Laurie Nunn for King Brown and Sharon Clark for Plow. Due to the high level of entries this year, there were also two Bruntwood commendations, which went to Joshua Val Martin and Rebecca Callard for their plays, This Is Not America and A Bit Of Light respectively.

Partnerships in Leeds
Leeds experienced highs and lows culturally. As backers for Leeds’ European Capital of Culture 2023 bid, we were very disappointed to learn of the European Commission’s decision to end UK cities’ participation in the initiative. While we await a final decision on the UK’s participation in the initiative, we remain firmly behind the bid and will continue to work to promote and develop the city region’s cultural excellence.
Regardless of the decision, we have still been very active in the city. We are very proud to have the UK's tallest mural, Athena Rising, adorning the side of our Platform building in Leeds. In October, the building also hosted artist Stuart Langley’s 'Beating Heart', a six-storey high installation that formed part of the stunning Light Night Leeds exhibitions.

University partnerships
It has also been a busy year working with the Manchester School of Art and Leeds Beckett University School of Art. MSA Textiles in Practice final year degree students created 12 installations that are on display at Oxford Place, which chosen to home the series of works due to its historical background in the textile industry.
Work by first year students of Filmmaking, Photography, and Animation lit up our digital art wall at Neo with 22 videos being featured as part of the week long Unit X festival. This followed internationally acclaimed artist Brendan Dawes’ piece ‘Fermata’ which launched the wall when the building opened in March. Professor Alan Dunn led a team of Leeds Beckett art students, graduates and staff for a major art commission entitled ‘Four Words; Technology’ in response to an open call for artists to create a piece of work to launch our digital art wall in Platform

All this and more has kept us very busy this year, with more new and exciting projects coming in 2018. RHS Flower Show Tatton Park 2018 will be our third outing at the event, and the recently redeveloped Cornerblock building in Birmingham will see a new installation by artist Jo Masding, who is based at the Grand Union art gallery and studios. Grand Union are also advising on new work for Center City, which will revamp the public spaces in the building.
In Liverpool, we look forward to supporting the Binary Festival and engaging with the Everyman and Playhouse Theatre.
Whatever the result of the European Capital of Culture appeal, we will continue to support culture in the city of Leeds and our collaboration with the West Yorkshire Playhouse.
And finally in Manchester, we will continue to work closely with HOME, the Royal Exchange, the Lowry Theatre and others to help keep our cities vibrant and culturally rich.

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