February 18, 2015

Unity Culture Editor wins international ideas pitch

Unity Culture Editor Paul Drury has been selected to take part in a major global project to reimagine the future of play.

He will be collaborating with creatives from around the world on a series of cutting-edge concepts to improve the quality of play in early childhood, rethink urban play spaces, and enrich the way children interact with space.

Paul pitched his idea to the ELEVATE StartWell Challenge through his fellowship with the British Council Creative Entrepreneur programme. It means he is travelling to Tokyo and Yamaguchi at the end of February with a team of creatives, inventors and entrepreneurs from around the world.

The ELEVATE Challenge is run by The Lien Foundation in Japan, and is specifically searching for innovative new concepts to improve the element of play in early childhood, reimagine urban spaces and playgrounds, and the way people interact with space.

The challenge was set just before Christmas, and entries were received from twelve countries – across disciplines that included design, architecture, early childhood, performing arts, technology and production. Paul will be working on a range of ideas for public good in Tokyo; including pop-up spaces representing the local country, iPhone apps to encourage children to play outside within nature, spaces and concepts to enable full enjoyment for children with access requirements, and large-scale playgrounds.


The panel of judges consisted of senior representatives from the Lien Foundation, Lekker Architects (Singapore), British Council, Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media [YCAM] (Japan), the ArtScience Museum (Singapore), Demos (UK) and international playground manufacturer Lappset.

On February 21st, the Paul and the Fellows will assemble in Tokyo and Yamaguchi, Japan, for a one week Innovation Camp, organised by the British Council, Yamaguchi City Foundation for Cultural Promotion and with the support of Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media [YCAM].

Paul Drury - Unity

There, they will work with local and international experts to further develop and refine their ideas, experience new and innovative models of design and ideation, and collaborate across countries. At the end of the Camp, the Fellows will resubmit their ideas for the opportunity to secure a portion of the $50,000 funding available to further develop their concepts.

Paul trained and worked as a journalist in the North of England for several years, before moving to London to work in arts & culture communication, production and partnerships. He joined Unity in the summer of 2013, and in role as Culture Editor he helps deliver communications, insights and partnerships for Lucozade Energy, Hyundai, vInspired, Diageo and more. Previously he has done British Council projects in Moscow, and produced a crowdsourced short film for The Unbox Festival in Delhi in 2012.

Paul said: “Play is so important. In fact, understanding what play’s role in education, development and also what makes it really fun has never been more important. And in an increasingly digital world, there’s never been a more important time to get people – particularly children – disconnected from screens and playing traditional games.”

He added: “I’m absolutely thrilled about the scale and scope of this project, we’ve got some really exciting training and meetings lined-up for Tokyo too. It’s always been a dream of mine to travel to Japan, to have the opportunity to a big project there was too good to resist.”

Unity has a long history of working with the British Council. Four-years-ago the agency produced This Way Up, a pop-up show that celebrated 15-years of Architecture, Design & Fashion at the British Council.

Unity co-founder Gerry Hopkinson said: “Unity is an agency that puts culture, connections and conversations at the heart of our work, we’re huge fans of what the British Council does and they’re always a fantastic team to work with. We’re delighted that Paul is doing this project, and the team here eagerly await the ideas and inspiration he is sure to bring back from his trip to Tokyo and around Japan.”

Partners for the Fellowship and Innovation Camp components also include Goldsmiths-University of London and Google. For more information on the Elevate Challenge: http://www.britishcouncil.org.au/programmes/arts/elevate