The free programme, designed to be accessible and inclusive to all, took place between March and November 2022, achieving an audience of more than 18 million. It brought people together through live events, digital and broadcast content, and learning and participation opportunities. Live events were held in 107 locations, many of them in towns, cities and rural areas less well served by major cultural investment.
UNBOXED is the result of an innovative approach to commissioning, investing in unprecedented cross-sector creative collaboration between people from the science, technology, engineering, arts and maths (STEAM) sectors. Neuroscientists, astrophysicists, computer programmers and structural engineers worked with poets, musicians, artists and designers to develop ideas for awe-inspiring experiences, in a funded research and development process which supported many creative organisations and freelancers during the Covid-19 pandemic. Across the programme, UNBOXED has supported more than 6,000 jobs, including opportunities for young and emerging creatives.
The unprecedented programme includes: a thrilling ride through 13.8 billion years of history in a sound and light show with specially commissioned poetry and music (About Us); a multi-event project celebrating community growing and reimagining harvest (Dandelion); an immersive art installation and research project investigating perception and the limitless potential of the human mind (Dreamachine); an exploration of our shared future and new ways of storytelling across live, digital and broadcast (GALWAD); thousands coming together to make art at 20 of the UK’s most outstanding landscapes for a series of broadcast programmes (Green Space Dark Skies); the solar system recreated as a an 8.5km to-scale sculpture trail on Earth (Our Place in Space); an epic super garden of magical proportions in the heart of the city inspired by the diversity of the UK’s people and plants (PoliNations); an offshore North Sea platform transformed into an art installation to inspire conversations about reuse and sustainability (SEE MONSTER); an immersive storytelling experience unearthing the hidden stories of towns and cities using 3D technology, AR and VR, and involving public libraries (StoryTrails); and a multi-city festival created by and for young people with a mission to imagine better futures (Tour de Moon).
UNBOXED has offered extensive learning, volunteering and public participation opportunities, throughout the UK and online, including school trips, lessons, assemblies and workshops, poetry and coding competitions, community growing initiatives and citizen science projects.
Its international programme has reached over 85 countries, forging new cultural collaborations, sharing experiences to showcase UK creativity and bringing together a global community of researchers and practitioners to further vital conversations about the role of collective creativity and innovation in building better futures for people and planet.
The impact of the programme continues to be felt after the end of the live events. UNBOXED has invested in new creative partnerships and supported new opportunities for a range of organisations and creatives; there will be permanent and touring installations; ongoing scientific research; curriculum-based teaching resources; and the positive impact on the 1.7 million children, young people and families who have been involved in, and inspired by, learning activities across the year.
UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK is funded and supported by the four governments of the UK and is commissioned and delivered in partnership with Belfast City Council, EventScotland and Creative Wales.