Positive Realities: XR for Youth Wellbeing, Coventry UK City of Culture in 2021

  • StoryFutures
  • July 24th 2020

The UK’s Creative Sector makes a vital and varied contribution to our health and wellbeing. Most of us know there are things in our lives we enjoy doing which help us to stay well. Films, books, games, art and stories of all kinds can help us process the world around us and increase an understanding of ourselves and others. But the way that we can tell life-enhancing stories is evolving. New tools such as real-time game engines and haptic technologies can create virtual worlds and the chance to touch and smell as well as to see and hear. You can explore the world from a different point of view, experiencing new perspectives in a virtual world that can alter your behaviour in the real one. But it is great storytellers and great creative companies that will immerse audiences in these new worlds, and that will make the virtual and augmented an exciting new reality.

That is why StoryFutures Academy, the UK’s National Centre for Immersive Storytelling is delighted to launch a partnership scheme with Create Central that will be bringing six West Midlands creative companies together with technologists to explore innovative new approaches to health and wellbeing for Coventry City of Culture in 2021.

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We are inviting the region's most creative thinkers in; Film, TV, Games, Digital Media and other creative content sectors to attend a two day workshop where they will discover and experience the very latest technologies in immersive storytelling. They will hear from creative practitioners and psychologists working in this field, as well as the young audiences in Coventry we want to reach in 2021.


From highly sharable augmented reality smartphone apps to virtual reality simulators on Oculus Quest headsets they will explore how creative storytelling and new forms of experiential content could promote positive everyday experiences to support better health and wellbeing. Then armed with what they have learnt each creative company will be asked to devise ideas that utilise and incorporate existing immersive platforms and technologies and that would have broad appeal for young audiences in Coventry. The aim would then be to shortlist up to three ideas for a period of paid development before selecting one to fund and build a prototype that can be delivered and tested as part of Coventry City of Culture in 2021. On offer for the selected creative company will be a prototype budget of up to £120,000 to deliver the audience facing experience with resources in kind from Create Central, StoryFutures Academy and Coventry City of Culture Trust to match.


Head over to our Challenges and Commissions page to view the editorial brief or download the pack and apply here.

This applications round will close on August 31st 2020.

Challenges & Commissions page

Reactions to the Launch of Positive Realities: XR for Youth Wellbeing in Coventry, UK City of Culture in 2021:

"Storytelling is the most powerful way we can make sense of the world so to combine this with immersive technologies through this new project is really exciting and will provide a real boost to the well-being of young people. The West Midlands has incredibly talented creative people working at the cutting edge of innovation in screen and Positive Realities represents major creative and commercial opportunities for businesses in this burgeoning region." Ben Roberts, BFI Chief Executive

"We’re delighted to be partnering with Create Central and StoryFutures Academy to offer this unique opportunity for regional creative companies. With our City of Culture year we set ourselves the dual challenge of developing innovative technology projects to entertain, as well as to tackle difficult social issues and find new creative solutions. Using immersive technologies we hope to tell Coventry’s stories in new ways, to create incredible audience experiences, and to support innovative cultural approaches to areas such as health and safety. As a city with world test bed status, we’re proud to provide a national platform for cutting-edge research led by regional talent, and to be prioritising the needs and expectations of Coventry’s next generation.” Chenine Bhathena, Creative Director of Coventry City of Culture Trust

“The West Midlands is home to a rich mix of creative companies that have excellent heritage in film, TV digital, theatre and games that can bring an exciting set of ideas to immersive technologies like VR, AR and XR. With the support of Coventry City of Culture we are providing a platform for innovation and hands-on learning for creative companies that will deliver a real benefit to the region’s youth audiences.” Professor James Bennett, Co-Director, StoryFutures Academy

“Create Central was set up to support the creative content sector to embrace new technologies and provide the building blocks for the future of media. With the support of the BFI, awarding funds from the National Lottery, as part of BFI National Cluster Growth Fund Agreement, this is a fantastic project that will demonstrate the benefits of collaborative working in our region.” Ed Shedd, Create Central Chair

"We are making the virtual a reality for Coventry, City of Culture. And we hope StoryFutures Academy can add commercial value for creative companies across the West Midlands and social value for young audiences in Coventry in 2021" Will Saunders, Chief Creative Officer, StoryFutures Academy

About StoryFutures Academy   

StoryFutures Academy is the UK's National Centre for Immersive Storytelling run by Royal Holloway, University of London and The National Film & Television School. Funded as part of UK Research and Innovation’s £33 million Audience of the Future programme the Academy develops cutting-edge creative training and research programmes, to ensure the UK creative workforce is the most skilled in the world in the use of VR, AR and MR for immersive storytelling.   

About Create Central

Create Central is an industry body whose members comprise some of the UK's most creative thinkers and change makers in film, TV, games and other creative content sectors. 

Through Create Central they work with national and regional partners to create an agile and responsive network to turbo-charge the creative industries in the heart of the UK.

Create Central is working in close partnership with the West Midlands Combined Authority, the three Local Enterprise Partnerships and other public sector organisations.


About Coventry UK City of Culture

Coventry is UK City of Culture in 2021.

This is the city where movement began, from innovation in the transport industry to a history of activism. Coventry has moved people for centuries.

For a whole year, Coventry will celebrate its story with events, music, dance, theatre, and large-scale spectacle. As well as these big celebrations, Coventry will show its unexpected side, with more intimate experiences and ways to get involved across every ward of the city.


About the BFI

The BFI is the UK’s lead organisation for film, television and the moving image. It is a distributor of National Lottery funding and a cultural charity that:

• Curates and presents the greatest international public programme of world cinema for audiences; in cinemas, at festivals and online

• Cares for the BFI National Archive – the most significant film and television archive in the world

• Actively seeks out and supports the next generation of filmmakers

• Works with Government and industry to make the UK the most creatively exciting and prosperous place to make film internationally

Founded in 1933, the BFI is a registered charity governed by Royal Charter. The BFI Board of Governors is chaired by Josh Berger CBE.


About the National Lottery

Thanks to National Lottery players, up to £600 million of funding has been made available to support communities across the UK during the Coronavirus crisis.

The National Lottery is playing a critical role in supporting people, projects and communities during these challenging times.

By playing The National Lottery, you are making an amazing contribution to the nationwide-response to combatting the impact of COVID-19 on local communities across the UK.


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