‘Platinum’ festival gets a name and a shape for the future

The national arts festival for 2022, seen as a new version of the 1951 Festival of Britain and variously nicknamed Platinum, in recognition of next year being the 70th year of the Queen’s reign, and Brexit in accord with the Prime Minister’s alleged wishes, has an official name: UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK.

Today ten commissions have been announced for the festival which backing worth £120m from the three national governments and Whitehall, and Unboxed is to echo Britain’s achievements in the STEAM disciplines working together.

The programme will feature free large-scale events, installations and globally accessible digital experiences produced by creatives in science, technology, engineering, arts and maths. There are to be ten major multi-site and digital creative futuristic projects with events and activities take place from March 1 to October 2 – from the Outer Hebrides to Dover and from Omagh to Swansea, and across traditional and online media. 

 Martin Green CBE, Chief Creative Officer, UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, said: “Hundreds of creatives from across science, technology, engineering, arts and maths are creating extraordinary once-in-a-lifetime events and online experiences for millions in the UK’s biggest and most ambitious public creative programme to date” said the festival’s chief creative officer Martin Green. “UNBOXED represents an unprecedented, timely opportunity for people to come together across the UK and beyond, taking part in awe-inspiring projects that speak to who we are while exploring the ideas that will define our futures.”

The ten are:

  • About Us. Theprogramme begins in Paisley in March with audiences in towns and cities across the UK immersed in 13.8 billion years of history, from the Big Bang to the present day, using innovative projection mapping technology combined with poetry, music and science. 
  • Dandelion. A Scotland-wide project featuring Unexpected Gardens, vertical farms, free music events and plant giveaways and that reimagines the annual harvest festival for the 21st century, from Caithness to Dumfries.
  • Dreamachine. Audiences in the UK’s four capital cities are immersed in sound and light in an artwork experienced with closed eyes that explores the limitless potential of the human mind.
  • GALWAD: A story from ourfuture Communities from across Wales, creatives and a Hollywood production studio are working together to shape and share a story set 30 years in the future across TV drama, digital platforms and live events in three Welsh locations.

  • GreenSpace Dark Skies (above). 20,000 people are being invited to create vast outdoor artworks by lighting up some of the UK’s outstanding landscapes, using new technology to create compelling online experiences. 
  • Our Place in Space. A scale version of our solar system, staged across 10km of sculptural trails in Northern Ireland and Cambridge, inviting the audience to consider our relationships with each other from the perspective of our place in space.
  • PoliNations (main image). A monumental forest garden of living plants and architectural trees is springing up in the city of Birmingham in celebration of the global origins of the UK’s plants and population.
  • SEE MONSTER A decommissioned North Sea offshore platform is being transformed into an immersive public art installation and celebration of British weather in the coastal town of Weston-super-Mare, suggesting new possibilities for retired structures.  
  • StoryTrails. Augmented reality, new developments in 3D internet technology and young creatives are shaping one of the most ambitious living history and archive projects ever undertaken. 
  • Tour de Moon. A festival of nightlife and countercultures inspired by and created in collaboration with the Moon is travelling in convoy around England with a mission to imagine multiple better futures for, and with, young people.

Interlaced with the programme will be learning and public participation opportunities to reach hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren, young people and communities, including the chance to take part, shape and deliver UNBOXED through school poetry and coding competitions, community workshops, citizen science projects and new employment and skills development opportunities for diverse young creatives and freelancers. There are also partnerships with the BBC, the British Council and the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.  

“As society adapts to the ever-evolving digital revolution and we see our innate creativity play an increasingly important role in all our futures, UNBOXED explores the power of collaboration to generate new possibilities for the way we live, work and play” said Vikki Herwood, chair of the festival. “The programme will support economic recovery in the UK by reanimating towns and cities and expanding our connectivity through new online communities. As the programme unfolds, it will both entertain us and inspire us to imagine what the future might hold by combining the creative powers of science, technology, engineering, arts and maths.”

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