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National recognition for Plymouth’s innovative IGNITE Festival

An innovative digital platform that connects arts graduates with creative agencies and employment and volunteering opportunities has been shortlisted for a prestigious major national education award.

The IGNITE Futures digital platform, the online hub at the heart of the city-wide IGNITE Festival of Creativity, is among six UK higher education projects shortlisted for a highly competitive Times Higher Education (THE) Award in the Technological or Digital Innovation of the Year category.

Created by the University of Plymouth and Plymouth College of Art, in collaboration with creative agencies Just Enough Brave and Altitude Design, IGNITE Futures has helped to showcase the work of more than 400 students and resulted in the creation of 11 new graduate jobs.

The third IGNITE Festival of Creativity took place across the summer, putting a unique spin on the traditional art degree show model by combining online technology with physical installations and exhibitions in community spaces to showcase work by graduates from the University of Plymouth and Plymouth College of Art.

Professor Chris Bennewith, Interim Executive Dean, Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business at the University, said: “To be shortlisted by the THE Awards is outstanding recognition of the innovative and collaborative spirit that has driven the creation of the IGNITE Futures platform.

“It has transformed the very nature of the traditional arts degree show, and created an interactive portal that connects our creative industries with new and emerging talent.”

“Creative skills aren’t just needed in the arts and media sectors,” says Ian Hutchinson, Head of Development at Plymouth College of Art. “That is the great value of the IGNITE platform; it offers a portal that connects people with the creative talent of graduates who can add value to a wide range of industries.

“IGNITE is incredibly efficient way of connecting people, whether as a means of generating employment or kick-starting community campaigns.”

For the 2021 IGNITE Festival of Creativity, the digital platform was one of a number of key innovations. With help and support from organisations including Real Ideas, Plymouth Citybus, Barclays, Open Media, Drake Circus, the Plymouth City Centre Company, Oyo Hotels, Ocean Studios, and Plymouth Arts Cinema, graduating students from Plymouth College of Art and University of Plymouth transformed the city of Plymouth into a living gallery, hosting more than 70 public exhibitions at multiple sites across the city.

From immersive animations and cutting edge fashion design to contemporary illustration and timeless glass and ceramics, the exhibitions were attended by thousands of direct visitors and public installations seen by tens of thousands of people in Plymouth’s city centre.

Work by graduates was showcased across the sides of public transport led by Citybus, inside Barclays Bank, at the Market Hall in Devonport, on digital screens outside the Barcode, inside Ocean Studios and across the local waterfront.

Steve Hughes, Chief Executive of the Plymouth City Centre Company, said: “We were delighted to be able to support the festival, which fits in perfectly with our aim of bringing new life to the city centre and finding new uses for empty shops.”

Dan Howson, IGNITE Producer, said: “We have seen IGNITE evolve to offer both a physical and digital celebration to great success. We created a unique spin on the traditional arts degree show with online technology working in tandem with physical community engagement.

“As a result, we have been delighted to surpass our expectations and achieved a massive footfall of tens of thousands of people during the festival and more importantly IGNITE has been successful in creating 11 Jobs for creative graduates.”

IGNITE is supported by Plymouth City Council as part of the iMayflower project, and by The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, who fund the Cultural Development Fund (administered by Arts Council England).

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