The founders of the University of York understood the importance of creativity – they built a campus that encouraged collaboration, centring it around colleges that would stimulate the sharing of ideas, and they brought in the brightest and best scholars in the arts and humanities

We are committed to bringing their vision into the 21st century by advancing the concept of creativity at York. We will place it at the centre of the University’s research agenda and place the University centre stage in the development of the national and international creative economy.

We have had many years of experience advancing the co-creation of knowledge and art, experimentation in the creative sector across the region and beyond, and cutting-edge research into the creative history of the region.


The Festival of Ideas is the University’s flagship annual event celebrating creativity. It began with just 20 events in 2011 and has since grown into a fortnight-long festival packed full of talks, workshops, exhibitions and performances. Launched as a partnership between the University and major cultural, business and media organisations in York and beyond, it demonstrates the transformative power of creativity, ideas and education.

Thanks to the generous support of many of our philanthropic partners, the University is able to run the Festival largely free of charge, and in 2018 it included over 200 different events within the theme of Imagining the Impossible. The Festival is now in its eighth year and attracts in excess of 30,000 visitors.

Highlights of the 2018 Festival included a Focus Day on the Future of Higher Education, a BBC Radio 4 Reith Lecture with distinguished historian Margaret MacMillan, and talks from human rights campaigner Shami Chakrabati, broadcaster June Sarpong, former international tennis player and national coach Judy Murray, and food writer and Masterchef critic William Sitwell.

The event is made possible by many of the University’s supporters. Particular thanks go to the Holbeck Charitable Trust, the Festival’s Headline Sponsor, whose generosity is key to keeping the Festival so widely accessible to the York community and beyond. Our other philanthropic sponsors include the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the UPP Foundation, the Shepherd Group, and Ron and Barbara Cooke. These and many other generous partners are making the University’s creative output accessible to all.


The Humanities Research Centre (HRC) is the University’s interdisciplinary hub for research in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. It’s home to our arts and humanities postgraduate research – a number of whom are supported by the Wolfson Postgraduate Scholarships in the Humanities. Since 2012 the Wolfson Foundation has committed £13 million to support doctoral studies in the humanities at nine carefully selected universities, based upon research quality. The initiative was established to address the Foundation’s concerns about funding for the humanities and the potential impact of increased undergraduate student debt on postgraduate studies. The Foundation’s aim is not only to support some of the most talented students, but also to make a statement about the value of the humanities to society. The University was delighted to recently be invited to participate in this important programme for a further three years.

The HRC acts as source of research support for academics, a community hub for postgraduate researchers, and a point of contact for potential partners looking for collaborators in academia. The University of York has invested more in the arts and humanities in the past decade than any other English university, and the HRC sits at the heart of that investment, providing a spectacular place of interdisciplinary belonging for arts and humanities academics and postgraduates. We are proud of the dynamic research culture, friendliness and imaginative, forward-thinking approach of the HRC and its ability to act as a front door to collaboration with the creative arts in the Yorkshire region, which is emerging as a hub of creative and collaborative artistic practice.