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Tees Valley to Gain from STEAM Development Project as MIMA and Teesside University and Partners Secure Funding


A diverse team of scientists and artists from the Tees Valley will come together to research and develop a public art project which aims to address climate change and social justice.

The project team, formed in the Tees Valley and led by MIMA School of Art & Design and Teesside University, are recipients of £100,000 funding which will see experts from the Tees Valley connect STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) who are looking to explore one of the key issues of our time: Climate Change.

The Teesside University Net Zero Futurism project is led by Director of MIMA and Dean of Teesside University’s MIMA School of Art & Design Laura Sillars. It also includes a team of experts from MIMA, the University’s National Horizons Centre and the School of Computing, Engineering & Digital Technologies. External partners with expertise in climate issues include; Cambridge University, The British Antarctic Survey (one of the world’s leading agencies in understanding climate change), TWI Ltd. (one of the world’s foremost independent research and technology organisations) and Tees Valley Nature Partnership (a membership organisation across the Tees Valley) and Borderlands (a community-governed Creative People and Places project).

The Creative Team is one of 30 from the UK selected to take part in in the Festival UK* 2022 Research & Development project.

Festival UK* 2022 is a major UK-wide festival of creativity and innovation, commissioning a series of major public engagement projects which will reach millions, bring people together and showcase the UK’s innovation globally.

£3m of research funding has been allocated to 30 creative teams, to enable them to develop their ideas for the festival - ten will then be selected to take forward for full production.

The Teesside University project, led by MIMA School of Art & Design, is titled Net Zero Futurism and was selected following a rigorous application process involving almost 300 submissions and 3,000 organisations, freelances and creative bodies representing the five STEAM sectors.

Independently run and led by Chief Creative Officer Martin Green, Festival UK* 2022 is backed by the four UK Governments.

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said: ‘These 30 teams show our world-class British creativity at its very best - risk-taking, ground breaking and diverse. They've gone through fierce competition to get here and highlight exactly what's possible when organisations from every part of the UK work together. I cannot wait to see their daring ideas come to life.

‘With Festival UK* 2022, the Platinum Jubilee and the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, 2022 is shaping up to be a truly extraordinary year of celebration for the whole United Kingdom.’

Net Zero Futurism aims to design a thought-provoking public engagement concept that can reach 66 million people, travel across the UK and draws on the project team’s academic knowledge in science, arts, public engagement, de-carbonisation, hydrogen and the circular economy.

At the heart of the project is a shared aim to shift towards a net zero carbon future and produce a community-based public artwork, drawing on the network to demonstrate the benefits of becoming a fully decarbonised zone.

Laura Sillars said: “MIMA is about collaboration and community and using art as a force for change.

“As the world faces climate change, an issue that will eclipse all others, we must work together to find solutions. Teesside has a proud history of industry and innovation but this has had its consequences, not least in terms of carbon emissions. We have reached a moment where professionals from across sectors have recognised that a new future must be forged. Our team is diverse in terms of people, organisations and community. This enables us to make a project that is both art and science, local and international.“

Teesside University Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, Professor Paul Croney added: “The Net Zero Futurism proposal is ambitious and truly exemplifies the creative and collaborative spirit that defines Teesside University.

“I am delighted that we can explore this idea through the award of this funding, and have no doubt that the artistic expertise, scientific knowledge and academic rigour of the project team will deliver a concept for a captivating public artwork.

“Culture and the creative industries play a critical role in the regeneration of post-industrial areas such as Teesside, and in building cohesive communities. Teesside University excels in generating positive social impact and it is welcome to see this recognised through inclusion in this significant initiative.”

Over the coming months each of the 30 teams will develop their ideas alongside the BBC’s Research and Development team – with the BBC the lead broadcast partner for Festival UK* 2022. They will then pitch to a panel in February next year, with 10 projects set to be taken forward for inclusion in the full festival.

Chief Creative Officer for Festival UK* 2022 Martin Green said: “Festival UK* 2022 is a massive experiment in creativity, with the core values of being open, original and optimistic, and encouraging teams to think big.

“It is wonderful that so many brilliant people, offering extraordinary creativity across STEAM, want to collaborate beyond their usual disciplines and with people they might not have worked with before.”

For more information on Festival UK* 2022 visit