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£30,000 award to playfully merge art, technology and culture

Press release issued: 24 October 2012

From street art to street games, in the last five years Bristol has put itself on the map for its playful approach to public spaces, inviting residents and visitors to get engaged with the city and its creative and cultural future.

Pushing the boundaries and encouraging experimentation, Watershed today [24 October] launches the call for entries for a new £30,000 international award at the intersections of art, technology and culture.

The University of Bristol is one of the project’s partners, initially helping to develop the concept and providing guidance to short-listed artists as they formulate their final submissions.

With a challenge to use creative technologies to surprise, challenge and engage audiences, applicants are encouraged to enter from anywhere across the globe and the work will be installed in a public space in Bristol before touring internationally.

The Playable City is a new term, imagined as a counterpoint to ‘A Smart City’. A Playable City is a city where people, hospitality and openness are key, enabling its residents and visitors to reconfigure and rewrite its services, places and stories. It is a place where there is permission to be playful in public. The Playable City Award is part of Watershed’s ongoing investigation into this theme, which will also include a programme of work with British Council in Recife, Brazil, during 2013.

David Alder, Director of Marketing and Communications at the University of Bristol, said:  "The Playable City Award is yet another illustration of the way in which our wonderful city experiments and pushes boundaries - a way of being which is core to both the city and to the University.  We are very pleased to be actively involved in this project."

Watershed’s Clare Reddington said: “The award is being co-funded by a network of creative and technology companies from Bristol to champion the city as an international hub for cutting-edge creativity. This unusual approach to sponsorship and support typifies the collaborative nature of a city where companies find a networked and open approach leads to creativity and competitive advantage.”

Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller, who recently toured Sacrilege - his inflatable Stonehenge - to Bristol, said: "We need to see more playfulness in our cities and public spaces.  The Playable City Award encourages surprising interventions, and I look forward to seeing what is produced."

Playable City Award judge Imogen Heap added: “I've visited Bristol more than most cities as I've been collaborating with a few of its many bright minds. A wonderful city that continues to nurture and champion creativity in art and tech. I'm delighted to be one of the judges for Bristol's Playable City Award and can't wait to see what emerges!”

Submissions open today and close on 5 December 2012. The shortlist will be published in December  and the winner announced in January.

The Playable City Award is supported by Aardman, BDH, HP Labs, IBM, IMDB, the Bristol SETsquared Centre, Sift, Team Rubber, Thirty Three, TLT LLP, Toshiba, University of Bristol, University of the West of England and Bristol City Council. The Award is produced by Watershed and supported by Arts Council England.

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Further information

The partners

Watershed’s Playable City Award is supported by a network of organisations who exemplify Bristol’s strength in Creative Technologies. They are: Aardman, BDH, HP Labs, IBM, IMDB, The Bristol SETsquared Centre, Sift, Team Rubber, Thirty Three, TLT LLP, Toshiba, University of Bristol, University of the West of England and Bristol City Council. The Award is produced by Watershed with support from Arts Council England.

About Watershed

Watershed is a cross‐artform venue and producer, sharing, developing and showcasing exemplary cultural ideas and talent. We are based in Bristol, but place no boundaries on our desire to connect with artists and audiences in the wider world. We curate ideas, spaces and talent to enable artistic visions and creative collaborations to flourish. We produce work that cuts across film, music, theatre, design, visual art, and the creative and technology sectors.

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