His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent was welcomed to Watershed today, as part of his official visit to three of Bristol’s leading creative establishments.
The Bottle Yard Studios, Colston Hall and Watershed were all included in the itinerary for the royal visit, designed to furnish The Duke with unique insight into Bristol’s dynamic film and television, digital arts and music sectors.
Watershed is recognised for its inclusive and internationally distinctive programme of invention and talent development; as a leading centre for film culture and as Bristol’s city centre cultural meeting and debating place of choice. Watershed runs Rife Magazine – an online platform co-created with young people - giving them a voice and covering the stories that matter to them. Rife develops young people’s digital skills, confidence, experience and networks so they can thrive. Rife believes young people’s voices should be part of the media landscape, so it is relevant and representative. Also within Watershed’s walls is The Pervasive Media Studio - a community of over 100 artists, creative companies, technologists and academics exploring experience design and creative technology. The Studio enjoys a culture of generosity, curiosity and interuptability and believes that by clustering together people from a broad range of backgrounds, with differing skills, experiences and opinions, all the ideas get better.
The Duke of Kent met members of Rife Magazine, saw demonstrations of Music Memory Box, Open Bionics and All Seeing Eye's VR Immersive Histories experience of the Dambusters - which took place 75 years ago today. He also met representatives from Watershed board, University of Bristol and Lawrence Hoo - a resident poet. HRH said Watershed was fascinating and unlike any other place he had ever visited.
Clare Reddington, Watershed’s Creative Director says:
“Bristol has an energetic and vibrant creative sector and is well known for creating unorthodox, high quality content. It is a pleasure to introduce our guests to the talented young people of Rife Magazine - Watershed’s youth-led digital platform, and the creatives in our Pervasive Media Studio, where art and culture play a key role to inventing in inventing future technologies.”
The largest dedicated film and TV studio in the West of England, The Bottle Yard Studios offers eight stages of flexible build space, giant green screen, workshops, production offices and a range of other production areas. Initially set up to attract high-end television drama to Bristol, the Bristol City Council initiative has since widened its client base to include Children’s and Light Entertainment genres. It is home to UK and overseas productions of all sizes, including most recently Sky Atlantic’s Fortitude, BBC’s Poldark, Three Girls and Eric Ernie & Me, Channel 4’s The Crystal Maze, ITV’s Tipping Point and Broadchurch, STARZ’s The White Princess and CBeebies’ Andy’s Safari Adventures.
A creative hub of 23 businesses offer a range of services to visiting productions, who also benefit from Bristol’s highly experienced crew base and support from Bristol Film Office. Developing education and work experience opportunities is a key priority for the Studios and a new Media Production Diploma course for 16-19 year olds will be taught on-site from September 2018. An estimated 380 jobs were created on site last year, with productions based at the Studios helping to generate an overall filming spend of £18.3 million in the city in 2016/17 (Bristol Film Office).
Fiona Francombe, Site Director of The Bottle Yard Studios said earlier:
"We look forward to welcoming His Royal Highness to the Studios where he will meet our small operational team and receive a full site tour, greeted by a number of our resident productions and businesses along the way. Given his long-standing work in promoting international trade across key British industries, I look forward to providing insight into the skilled work of Bristol’s talented crew and facilities, as well as the growing role the Studios is playing in attracting both UK titles and international co-productions to Bristol."
Colston Hall, run by Bristol Music Trust, is the South West's largest concert hall, with a high quality and extensive music and education programme. The Hall will close in June 2018 for a two year £48.8m transformation of the main hall and historic Lantern building. It is the largest arts redevelopment project in the South West and will create a world class concert hall with a focus on education, entertainment and enterprise. The revitalised Hall will host the National Centre for Inclusive Excellence in its new cellar education spaces. The NCIE will be the UK's first music training centre for young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, giving them clear aspirations and pathways into the music industry.
The Hall hosts the city's thriving music hub Bristol Plays Music, where over 30,000 children in 92% of Bristol's schools are taught to listen to, create and play music. His Royal Highness will hear 160 singers from six Bristol primary schools including May Park, Ashley Down and Victoria Park perform five songs in Colston Hall's foyer, including Raise my Voice by Carrie and David Grant and a traditional Gospel Medley. He will also meet some of Bristol Music Trust's supporters and partners.
Louise Mitchell, Chief Executive of Bristol Music Trust, said
"It is a real pleasure to welcome His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent to see the varied and groundbreaking work happening in Bristol and here at Colston Hall. As he is a keen supporter of music, we are particularly proud that he will hear the wonderful singing of our talented primary school choir, and that he will be the last member of the Royal Family to see the 1951 Colston Hall before our redevelopment begins in June. We hope His Royal Highness will be able to join us in 2020 to see the exciting changes we have made to transform the Hall."
The Duke of Kent is older brother to Prince Michael of Kent and Princess Alexandra and is first cousin to both The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh. He is involved with over 140 different charities, organisations and professional bodies which cover a wide range of issues, from commemorating the war dead, to fostering the development of British technology and industry. His Royal Highness undertakes numerous engagements each year in support of these organisations, both in the UK and across the Commonwealth.
A city well known for its vibrant culture, Bristol’s international reputation as an influential creative hub was further boosted recently when it was named a UNESCO City of Film in 2017, joining a network of creative cities working together towards a common mission for cultural diversity and sustainable urban development.