UNESCO designates Viborg as Creative City: An international niche in Denmark’s visual industry
What does the Danish provincial town Viborg situated the middle of Jutland have in common with cities like Dakar, the capital of Senegal, the Israeli tech-hotspot Tel-Aviv or Sapporo in Japan?
Not much really. Or, that was until October this year when Viborg was designated as UNESCO Creative City for the city’s significant role in the Media Arts category.
To achieve this status, cities have to demonstrate development of cultural and creative industries triggered by digital technology, successful media arts integration into urban life, and wider access to culture through digital technology development.
Viborg has achieved the UNESCO title by positioning its’ outstanding animation culture and visual communication that is not to be found anywhere else in Denmark.
Lars Stentoft, Director of Culture & Development in Viborg Municipality says: “In Viborg we have a stronghold within media arts. The visual industry is an important area because the world and people are visual and we all use images and pictures to understand our surroundings and the world we live in. Pictures and films can show us contexts that would be extremely complicated to communicate in written words. Through digitalisation, new generations receive knowledge and cultural values and we use our visual imagination to predict the future. Thus, the visual industry is an increasing market.”
30 years of strategic investment in animation
Viborg’s contribution to the creative field is something completely unique. However, it is not something new for the city.
Ever since the end of the 1980s, Viborg Municipality has worked to create a creative environment at an international level by focusing significantly on the niche industry of animation and visual communication.
For three decades, hard work and strategic commitment with animation and visual communication have made Viborg the melting point for ideas and creativity in Denmark. Animation is showcased entirely from an animation school attracting talents from all over the world, an entrepreneurial environment gathering the animation business community and even a festival committed to celebrating the animation culture.
No wonder why the city plays the role as creative hub through digital innovation and visual communication – not only in Denmark, but also internationally.
Director of Culture & Development in Viborg Municipality, Lars Stentoft says: “Animation and visual technologies are our core features and The Animation Workshop (TAW), a leading European animation school, is the center. We have other strong educational institutions within visual industries and media such as photography, web, games, AR and VR. An environment that creates great educational, economic, social and cultural value has grown from these educational institutions.”
A unique visual ecosystem with local roots, national importance and international reach
Viborg is tied together by a shared creative DNA between in educations, business life and cultural initiatives. This creates a unique value chain that ensures creativity and visual competencies in Denmark’s future generations.
The Animation Workshop is one of Europe's leading educational institutions and a key actor when it comes to talent development within animation and graphic storytelling.
Head of The Animation Workshop (TAW), Kasper Kruse says: "The visual industry is growing significantly. Not just in Denmark but globally due to many reasons. One of the key factors is the growth of digital screenbased platforms and media that demand content and design that we in the visual industry can provide. The visual language is a global language which I also think can contribute to connecting us all better."
"I don't think we have fully grasped how many opportunities the Creative Cities Network offers yet. The collaborations and the knowledge sharing with members will bring a lot of value to The Animation Workshop. Hopefully, the other members will also find that we in Viborg can contribute alot to this."
As the only one of its kind in Denmark, the business cluster and entrepreneurial house, Arsenalet, is home to many companies in the field of animation and digital visual communication.
Chairman of the Board in Arsenalet, Anna Porse says: “The digital, visual industry is something that Denmark will have to live off in the future. Our ability to be creative, to tell stories, to use all the digital technologies in new innovative ways – that’s what’s important and Arsenalet creates a direct link between business and talents.”
She continues: “The UNESCO designation means direct access to international networks and important branding for Arsenalet and for Viborg as a city. Viborg is still a Danish provincial town, so this just lifts Viborg up in another league in the digital, visual industry. And we hope that this will also attract investment to Viborg.”
Viborg Visuals: The long, strategic investment rises in a new format
Viborg Visuals is a new national centre for animation and visual communication that will realise Denmark's creative potential. The idea is to gather the whole creative environment and thereby strengthening and supporting the use of animation and visual communication.
“We now have the capacity to establish our own cluster called Viborg Visuals as a part of the national cluster Vision Denmark. This will basically be the platform for all our UNESCO activities and ambitions.” says Lars Stentoft, Director of Culture & Development in Viborg Municipality.
The Viborg Visuals Center will build a bridge between the educational institutions and talent development, the providers of animation and visual solutions and the market of both public and private companies.
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