FORMAT Photography

Submitting Institution

University of Derby

Unit of Assessment

Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Creative Arts and Writing: Film, Television and Digital Media
Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies

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Summary of the impact

This case study describes the impact of the FORMAT International Festival of Photography which is a collaboration between the QUAD Independent Cinema & Media Arts Centre and the University of Derby. The Festival has developed from high-level creative practice, which advances the development of the photographic medium, creating a legacy resource and contributing to public understanding and engagement. FORMAT confirms Derby as a major centre for photography in the UK with an international reach, and reflects the reputation and heritage of the University of Derby in the area of photographic research and education over five decades.

Underpinning research

Research Insights
The underpinning research is evidenced through the medium of exhibition, publishing, public debate, conference and commissioning of new work. The research explores the contemporary landscape of photography, and more latterly, film and art installations that are based within lens-media.

The Festival was established in 2004 with the key objectives of disseminating research and practice in photography. Each edition of the festival is curated and programmed in response to a theme, reflecting current debates and issues. The sixth Festival took place in March 2013, under the theme of the `Factory' and explored the notion of mass production. Previous themes have examined the relationship between photography and cinema (2009) and street photography and working in the public realm (2011).

At its inception FORMAT was created as a partnership between Q Arts (the forerunner of QUAD), Derby City Council and the University of Derby. Since 2012 the Festival has operated as an independent company, with QUAD and the University of Derby as the key stakeholders having corporate representation on the Board.

The Festival is sub-divided into a number of main programme elements:

  1. `Focus' — a curated selection of newly commissioned and retrospective work.
  2. `Exposure' — a juried exhibition showcasing contemporary work selected from open submissions.
  3. Conference — a one-day event disseminating research from a range of contributors and speakers — academics, writers, curators and practitioners.
  4. Mob Format — a web-based juried exhibition based on open submissions.
  5. Industry participation — juried exhibitions and events organised by agencies and photo-collectives, which includes portfolio reviews professionals including, publishers, commissioners and picture editors.
  6. Workshops and Events — a programme of invited speakers, workshops and panel discussions.

Key Researchers:
Professor Huw Davies, Professor of Lens Media (2008-present).
Professor John Goto, Professor of Fine Art (2007-present).
Dr Jane Fletcher, Senior Lecturer in Photography (2008-present).
Heike Lowenstein, Senior Lecturer in Photography (2011 - 2012).
Sophie Rickett, University Reader (2004 - 2009).
Dr Philip Harris, Senior Lecturer in Photography (2013 — present).
Dr Martino Nicoletti, Senior Lecturer in Photography (2013 — present).
Visiting Professors in Photography include Pavel Banka and Brian Griffin.

Key Research Activities:

i) Public Exhibition Banka (2005), Goto (2005), Rickett (2009) and Davies (2013).

ii) Commissioning of new work to challenge, innovate and provide legacy through the archive Germain (2007), Ivanissevich (2009), Larson and Shindelman (2011), Gilden (2011), Griffin (2013).

iii) Curatorship and programing — Selection of work through Focus and Exposure strands. This has included: Membership of Exposure and Mob Format Jury (Davies, Griffin). Membership / Chair of Board of Directors (Davies). Membership of Festival Steering Group: (Davies, Fletcher, Lowenstein).

iv) Conference / symposia — `Photo Cinema' (2009) Conference Chair (Davies), Conference Chair (Davies). `Right Here Right Now' (2011) Conference Chair (Davies), `The Factory' (2013) Conference Chair (Lowenstein).

v) Publication and Critical Writing — associated publications, including catalogue essays, Campbell (2011) and books, Davies, Fletcher (2012).

References to the research

1. H.Davies. N. Campbell, Right Here, Right Now. 2011. QUAD Publishing. Published output 120 page catalogue: Essay, Exposure Introduction (Huw Davies). ISBN 978-0-9553538-4-0.

2. H.Davies, Making Connections, J. Fletcher, Stillness and Time, in `PhotoCinema — Working at the creative edges of photography and film'. (Eds.) N. Campbell, A. Cramerotti. 2012. Intellect. ISBN 978-1-84150-562-6.

3. H.Davies. Transitions / Working Lives. 2013. Exhibition of photographic work as part of `Focus' programme strand. FORMAT 2013, The Factory, 8th March-7th April 2013.

4. S.Rickett. Auditorium. 2009. Two channel digital video shown as part of `Exposure' programme strand. FORMAT 2009, Photo Cinema, 6th March — 5th April 2009.

5. PhotoCinema. 2009. QUAD Publishing. Published output 176 page catalogue: ISBN: 03538-2-3-955

6. Factory. 2013. QUAD Publishing. Published output 128 page catalogue: ISBN 978-0- 9553538-7-1

Details of the impact

Research contribution to impact:
The involvement and participation of the photography research team in this high profile international event with an established lineage and heritage has enabled research through curatorship, exhibition and critical writing. The nature and significance of this has focussed on processes of dissemination and the evaluation of the Festival and its cultural value. The research has inspired new ways of generating and influencing creative practice and exhibition in photography. The Festival has contributed to the cultural life of the city and the attendant economic and social benefits this brings.

FORMAT 11 hosted exhibitions in other areas of the region (namely at Burton-on-Trent and through the New Art Exchange in Nottingham). This was continued in 2013 with the use of 18 venues including the Beetroot Tree in South Derbyshire, the New Art Exchange, Nottingham and John Smedley's factory in Lea Green near Matlock, Derbyshire. The Festival also made use of the Chocolate Factory, an empty warehouse which was used as a temporary exhibition space in the City. As in 2011, the festival had a press launch in London at St. Pancras International, with support from Marketing Derby, Derby City Council.

The launch event for FORMAT 13 featured a performance of Elemental Force, which is an Arts Council England funded series of free spectacular large-scale outdoor events that put historic buildings centre stage and use light, sound and film to celebrate the rich heritage of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. The research team broadened the use of online platforms with the EyeEM mobile phone app and the Exhibition Explorer App. This experimented with an enhanced use of social media in order that the work of photographers across the globe could be submitted in real-time. In total over 7,000 images were submitted to the festival via MobFORMAT.

Quantitative indicators:

  • FORMAT 2011 attracted an estimated 100,000 visitors with a cumulative net economic impact benefit of £1.1M to the City of Derby.
  • The work of over 300 artists / photographers from over 20 countries was shown as part of 70 individual events.
  • In 2013 there were 226,943 individual interactions with the FORMAT Festival through a range of workshops, digital participation and through visits to exhibitions, of which there were a total of 213,910 individual visitors.
  • Attended by over 500 leading photographers, critics, curators, and industry professionals during the festival's opening weekend.
  • In 2011 40% of festival visitors surveyed were from outside the East Midlands region, with over 2% of visitors from overseas; in 2013 50% of festival visitors surveyed were from outside the East Midlands with 4% of visitors from overseas. (For comparison, the Edinburgh Festival has a reported 15% of non-UK visitors, the SO Festival in Skegness recorded 0.3% of overseas visitors in an established tourist resort.)
  • Coverage of FORMAT was in a broad range of international print media including the New York Times, Observer, Financial Times, Elle Men and the Guardian. The print and web coverage achieved for FORMAT13 had an estimated Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) of £1.5m. This figure has been calculated based on advertising rates for print publications.
  • The cumulative net economic impact of the FORMAT Festival to Derby in 2013 was £955,178.

Critiques or citations:

  • Attracted a range of high profile media coverage which included review in BBC Front Row, Sunday Times Magazine, The Guardian, The New York Times and Italian Vogue as well as specialist academic and photographic press.
  • From 2009 onwards, FORMAT has been the only UK member of the `Festival of Light', a consortium of the 23 most prestigious photography festivals from 20 countries worldwide.

Economic Impact:

  • FORMAT contributed to the local economy — £1 million of net additional economic value generating 3,949 overnight bed stays in the local accommodation sector. Local businesses have recognised the contribution of the festival and are increasingly using the festival as a platform to win new customers and business.
  • Businesses have seen FORMAT drawing new customers into the city centre and this is giving them increased confidence in their location, most notably businesses in the Cathedral Quarter.

Public engagement:

  • Operational budget of £250K, 40 programme partners / funders representing the public sector (Arts Council England, East Midlands Development Agency, Derby City Council), trusts and foundations (Esmee Fairburn Trust), private / corporate sponsors (Trokia, Magnum Photo Agency, Blurb Editions) and media sponsors (The Guardian, British Journal of Photography, Photo8 and Sky Arts).
  • FORMAT social networking activity — Facebook received 17,500 daily post views and the mass participatory project MOB FORMAT received over 10,000 submissions from across the globe.

Sources to corroborate the impact

  2. Format 2011 Marketing report. Published by Idea Generation 2011.
  3. `The Economic Footprint of Format 11'. Report by S4W commissioned by Derby City Council, 2011.
  4. `The Economic Footprint of FORMAT13', Derby, May 2013. Report by S4W commissioned by Derby City Council.
  5. Chief Executive, Quad, Independent Cinema and Media Arts Centre.

Surveys of visitors and professional attendees have also been augmented by a business survey of the city centre based businesses. Business surveys were undertaken through both an online survey, active until the start of May and a face-to-face survey conducted shortly after the end of FORMAT.