Reignite IV: The Next Generation

Reignite returned for its fourth event ‘The Next Generation’ last night. The event, at York St John University’s Creative Centre, featured presentations from York graduates that have gone on to work for global organisations and showcased the University’s School of Arts Degree Show, to celebrate the next generation of creative talent in the city.

Reignite is a vision for the city in which we leverage our UNESCO Media Arts designation to attract inward investment, develop educational pathways, retain graduates, create more jobs, and quantify the economic impact of the sector on the wider economy of York.

Following on from the successful Reignite III in April, which showcased the astounding work of York & North Yorkshire based media arts companies AY-PE, Button Down Productions, and Stage One Creative Services, Reignite IV championed the next generation of talent and the successes of York’s creative graduates. The sold-out event introduced 200 guests from York’s creative and business communities to the Creative Centre and the work of 60 exhibiting artists.

Cherie Federico, Director of Aesthetica, said: “Reignite is driving change in York. We are celebrating creative ingenuity and making space for the next generation to thrive in the city. Our UNESCO designation underpins this movement and it is reframing the sector, supporting entrepreneurialism, retaining talent and pushing the city towards a more sustainable future with opportunities for innovation, growth and development.”

Professor Helen Minors, Head of the School of Arts, York St John University, said: “We were thrilled to host Reignite IV and to welcome artistic and business leaders and community members to our School of Arts Festival. Joining Reignite along with our Fine Art & Photography Degree show demonstrates our commitment to supporting and retaining talent in the region so that we are developing a thriving ecosystem and building the economy around the creative industries in York & North Yorkshire.”

Guests heard from Eleanor Tomlinson, an illustrator from East Yorkshire and York St John graduate whose portrait of Paddington Bear with Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth went viral all over the world, and who has worked with global brands, such as Joules and HarperCollins, and Richard O’Hare (Orillo), a fellow York St John graduate and founder of the world-renowned and York-born filmmaking company, working with brands such as Guinness, Puma, and Dulux, and whose films can be seen on Apple TV and Amazon Prime. Guests also heard from a panel of artists at the beginnings of their career discussing growth and ambition in York.

Following the talks, visitors enjoyed the Reignite Party which included tours of the York St John Degree Show, a DJ, drinks, and networking with a range of businesses from all sectors of the city.

Kate Jackson, a student at the University, said: “I was so excited to be asked to be a part of Reignite IV, it has given me an opportunity to have my voice heard by the wider arts community. I think it is really important we have discussions like these to not only set plans in place for the future of York but also to spread awareness of every opportunity, project, and business within the York Arts Industry.” 

Rachel Bean, Project Manager at York BID said: “Reignite has fundamentally changed the way people talk about the creative talent and industries in our city. It’s a privilege to be a part of and I hope the legacy of Reignite IV will be that the city continues to show up for and champion our creative graduates.”

The event also introduced the new Creative Business Skills Academy, launching in June. Coordinated by Aesthetica, York St John University, and the new Combined Authority, the 12-week free course is designed to support creatives to launch or grow their businesses and will offer attendees 12 months free rent at York St John’s Enterprise Centre. The Academy aims to create a cohort of talent in York and North Yorkshire and to reframe the creative sector, so that Creative Industries, Digital, and Technology are seen as real opportunities to drive economic growth in the city and region.

The success of Reignite IV underscores a shared commitment to uniting the city in support of the high growth and economic potential of the creative industries, helping to embed the creative sector into the ecosystem of the city. The event was supported by Aesthetica, York St John University, City of York Council, UKSPF, York BID, and Viridian FX.