Festival launch to explore City of York’s road to recovery post COVID-19

The City of York’s response when faced with the COVID-19 pandemic – and its future recovery – will be the topic of an interactive discussion at the online launch of this year’s York Festival of Ideas.

The panel discussion, in partnership with Make It York, will explore how the City can harness the community spirit demonstrated throughout lockdown to achieve inclusive economic recovery in a way that benefits everyone. Audience members will be able to join in the conversation through interactive Q&As.

An expert panel of speakers, chaired by Greg Dyke, former BBC Director General and now Chair of Make It York, will set out York’s ambition to play a key role in a national and international road to economic and societal post-Covid-19 recovery.

The discussion will explore whether York could act as a national pilot location for positive solutions in the coming months, due to its size, economic structure, universities and geography. Speakers at the 2 June event include Joanna Norris, Chief Executive of ChristchurchNZ, who will consider what lessons might be learnt from the way the people of Christchurch, New Zealand, responded to the devastating earthquake of 2011. She will also provide insights into how the Christchurch community has responded to the current crisis, and will explain how ChristchurchNZ is supporting a future-focused economic recovery in this pandemic era.

Professor Charlie Jeffery, Vice-Chancellor of the University of York, will outline ideas for driving skills, innovation, growth, inward investment and support for inclusive economic growth. Signe Jungersted, CEO of Group NAO, helped transform tourism in Copenhagen, and will discuss the future nature of travel and tourism.

York-based Juliana Delaney, CEO of Continuum Attractions, will talk about resilience and the impacts of lockdown, while Walter Boettcher, Chief Economist at Colliers International, will provide a national perspective and outline the reforms and change needed as we plan for the future.

Joan Concannon, Director of York Festival of Ideas, said: “We are thrilled to be launching this year’s Festival with an event exploring how people in York are working together to make a difference in our City.

“As a University our values and commitment to being a university for public good has never been more important and the COVID-19 pandemic has increased our commitment to finding new ways to work with partners across the City to find positive solutions to the crisis and to identify how we can create a roadmap to recovery for York.

“I’d like to thank all our partners, supporters and speakers for helping us to pull together such an amazing Festival programme in record time.”

Greg Dyke, Chair of Make It York, added: “Planning recovery post Covid-19 is hugely complex challenge and there is no doubt that it will be tough. But in some ways it gives York a real opportunity to be ambitious about how economic recovery and growth is driven forward.

“York is a unique city with a history of being able to reinvent itself and show adaptability and resilience in the face of what may seem like insurmountable challenges – and in this event we are setting out to explore how we draw on that spirit in our recovery plan for the city.

“The discussion looks set to be a highly interesting one, with expert speakers from around the world whose insights York can learn from: from economic recovery following the devastating Christchurch earthquakes in New Zealand to how Copenhagan transformed their tourism industry. We will also be hearing from local experts about the impact of lockdown on tourism in York and the changes that we need to make to drive inclusive economic growth in the city.

“I am delighted to be chairing this thought-provoking and stimulating event, on the vision for York’s ambitious plans to drive societal and economic recovery.”

The double award-winning York Festival of ideas will return from 2-14 June 2020 with a programme of more than 60 mostly free online events on the theme of “Virtual Horizons”.

While Covid-19 has meant York Festival of Ideas’ 10th year celebrations are postponed until 2021, a wide range of events will go ahead virtually during its original planned dates.

The programme features talks, interactive Q&As, online workshops, virtual performances, and walking trails around the city; with events covering topics ranging from kimonos to space, from knitting to the future of reality, and from world leaders’ responses to COVID-19 to sustainable living.

The Festival is led by the University of York in collaboration with nearly 30 local and national partners. Taking place for 13 days each June, last year’s Festival welcomed an audience of over 33,000 to 220 events at nearly 50 venues across the city.

After winning the award for Best Cultural Event or Festival at the York Culture awards in 2017, the Festival scooped the award for Outstanding Cultural Festival (Large) in 2018.

To see the full Festival programme and to book tickets visit yorkfestivalofideas.com.


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