Article: This Way Up (7 – 8 Nov 2017, Hull) Keynote speakers revealed

Cementing its ambition with a revamped programme of timely discussion themes, the fourth edition of THIS WAY UP (TWU) – the annual film exhibitors’ industry conference – returns this Autumn (7-8 November), hosted by Hull Truck Theatre, in Hull UK City of Culture 2017.

As the BFI Film Audience Network develops, alongside renewed support measures for UK film exhibition, TWU will tackle the big questions and continue making the case for a diverse film culture. With attendance doubled since its first edition, the growing conference will build on three successful previous events, laying down new challenges and opportunities for the independent exhibition sector, and inviting delegates to explore, debate and discover new ways to move the sector forward.

Themes, conference MC and two of the three keynote presenters are now confirmed, with further names and other significant sessions will be announced in September:

Jenny Sealey MBE credit Micha Theiner

Jenny Sealey MBE credit Micha Theiner

First keynote speaker to confirm is Jenny Sealey MBE, winner of the Liberty Human Rights Award and co-director of the London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony, who has been CEO/Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre since 1997. A force for change in world-class theatre, Graeae is the original disabled-led theatre company which boldly places D/deaf and disabled actors centre stage. Challenging preconceptions and leading the way in pioneering, trail-blazing theatre, Graeae’s signature characteristic is their compelling creative integration of sign language, captioning and audio description. Their work engages brilliantly with both disabled and non-disabled audiences, champions accessibility and provides a platform for new generations of artists. A recognised authority in accessible aesthetics, Graeae works closely with client organisations to inspire and lead best practice – creating, supporting and advising on the development of accessible environments for all theatre lovers, everywhere.

Second keynote speaker is Moira Sinclair, CEO of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation (PHF), one of the UK’s largest independent grant-makers, which aims to help people overcome disadvantage and lack of opportunity. PHF has a particular interest in social justice and in supporting young people and has a strong belief in the importance of the arts. Previously, as Executive Director London and South East for Arts Council England, Moira oversaw a portfolio of 322 funded cultural organisations and contributed to national policy development, with a particular focus on the resilience and sustainability of the cultural sector and workforce development. She played a key role supporting the cultural programme for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and is currently Chair of East London Dance and Vice Chair of the London Mayor’s Cultural Strategy Board. She is also a member of the British Library Advisory Council, of the Investment Committee for the Arts Impact Fund and of the Governing Council for the European Foundation Centre

The conference will be MC’d by James Mullighan, previous director of the 58th – 61st editions of the Cork Film Festival, and the 65th Edinburgh International Film Festival. Following working for Shooting People, RESFEST, Cinelan and HBO Europe, James also serves on the Board of Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival.

The 2017 edition of the conference will discuss key questions, setting debate and practical sessions against a backdrop of over-arching themes, which are:

The Power of Culturethis year’s framing for the conference, in what feels like a period of increasingly dramatic and rapid change; in the film industry, in the country and across the world, where we’ve seen seismic shifts in politics, culture, society and business. The power of culture is colossal, its ability to be transformative, to inspire individuals and connect communities is essential. Held at the end of a hugely transformative year of cultural celebration in Hull, TWU will also examine the practical and wider potential for cultural activity to transform, renew, shape and even displace.

Technological Changea running theme since 2014, the conference will once again examine disruptive influences affecting the sector, new forms of exhibition and ways independents can capitalise on ever-increasing digitisation and accessible tech. New techno-industrial giants, such as Uber, Netflix and Airbnb, have developed so fast we’ve yet to fully understand their impact. How do we harness new technologies for good, and how do we use design-led thinking and embrace ‘disruptive innovation’ to suit our needs and those of our audiences? Delegates can expect practical demonstrations and the exploration of future trends.

Ethics and Resiliencein the tumultuous 12 months since TWU16, TWU17 will ask where cultural organisation’s responsibilities lie in representation, programming, and inclusivity?  With increasing pressure on arts to be ‘sustainable’ how do we preserve cultural values from the erosion of commercial pressure?  How do we make the case for organisations to take risks, to ‘fail forward’ and to try new ideas? Whether it’s the chronic under-representation of women in the sector, or the #OscarsSoWhite movement, there is still a long way to go when it comes to the morals and ethics of our own industry.

Places, Spaces and Global Communitycinema is at its heart a collective experience, and one of the art forms with the widest reach.  As content proliferates across smaller and ever more portable devices, how does urban infrastructure make space for culture, and places that people can come together?  Is there opportunity in digital space and how can we work with collective digitisation to create meaningful, communal experiences? Is a space made up of the people who inhabit it, or do we need to reinvest in capital to ensure future generations connect with culture?

Hull UK City of Culture 2017 Building on Hull’s City of Culture year, which has included one of the largest programmes of film activity ever seen in the UK, TWU will examine the place of film and digital arts in wider cultural programmes and the power of film to reach and connect to diverse audiences. Having overseen hundreds of events across the city,

Hull 2017 Director Martin Green will talk about the 365-day cultural programme, offering delegates an insight into the important role that culture has to play in transforming cities and the ambition to create a sustainable legacy for Hull.

Martin Green, Director Hull UK City of Culture 2017, said: “Film has been an important strand of our cultural programme. Thanks to BFI Film Hub North, Hull Independent Cinema and our other partners we have seen a vast array of film related activity, which has entertained us, offered commentary on society and a mirror on our lives. It has also opened-up opportunities for people wanting to be involved in this vitally important sector. This Way Up is a wonderful opportunity to share some of the things we have learned as a result of Hull being UK City of Culture and to look at the critical role that culture has in shaping our cities and benefiting the people that live in them.”

2017 Conference partners include: BFI Film Audience Network, British Council, Creative Europe and Screen International (media partner).

Tickets are on sale now.  Further programme details to be announced in September  For more information, visit: thiswayupconference.com and follow updates @thiswayupcon #TWU17

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