In 2018 Bristol Cultural Development Partnership (BCDP) celebrates its 25th anniversary.

In the autumn as part of the Festival of Ideas we will launch a special season exploring some of the big ideas that have developed since BCDP was founded in 1993. In the meantime, over the coming months, we will be posting articles about some of the organisation’s projects.

This post provides a summary of some of BCDP’s programmes, events, publications and consultancy work. The illustration was commissioned from local artist Alys Jones.

Alys Jones bcdp new shapeLOWRES


  • Bristol Cultural Development Partnership (BCDP) launched 1993: Andrew Kelly takes up post as director in March
  • Shortlisted for Year of Photography and the Electronic Image, a Millennium project, submitted in partnership with Bath in 1993
  • BCDP commences work on Harbourside Centre for the Performing Arts, a proposed new concert hall, in 1993. Behnisch Architekten wins international design competition in 1996 and responsibility for project passed to newly formed organisation. BCDP continues to advise as needed
  • In 1994 BCDP launches plans for a new cultural attraction on Harbourside, which was eventually to become At-Bristol (We The Curious) and is key participant in the renewal of the Harbourside area over the next few years
  • In 1995 launch of Brief Encounters short-film festival (which BCDP managed for five years) along with the largest programme outside of London to mark 100 years of cinema
  • Help develop Watershed’s future planning and work on behalf of various other organisations, including The Print Project and Black Pyramid Films
  • Launch of Digital Arts Development Agency in 1998
  • BCDP partners with many organisations on plans to mark the turn of the Millennium


  • At-Bristol opens in 2000
  • BCDP leads business planning and evaluation work on Bristol Legible City and manages major legible city conferences in 2001 and 2003
  • Consultancy reports include: Best Value and Urban Design for Bristol City Council (2001); Making a Difference – an Impact Assessment of Animated Encounters, Brief Encounters and Wildscreen (2003); and organisational review of The Architecture Centre (2004)
  • Launch of Animated Encounters in 2001 – partner festival to Brief Encounters
  • Bristol2008 Capital of Culture bid shortlisted and Bristol named one of six UK Centres of Culture in 2002
  • Annual Great Reading Adventure launched in 2003 with Treasure Island project
  • Successful bid to the Urban Cultural Programme submitted in 2004 to deliver on the Bristol2008 promise
  • First Festival of Ideas takes place in 2005: speakers include A C Grayling, Claudia Hammond, Nick Hornby, John Mortimer and Julia Neuberger
  • Contribute to How Open is Bristol? – an intercultural city study in partnership with Comedia in 2005


  • Brunel200: programme marking 200th anniversary of the birth of Isambard Kingdom Brunel takes place across the South West in 2006, led by BCDP
  • Consultancy includes conducting research for the SWRDA Creative Summit and for Science City Bristol in 2007
  • Represent Bristol in the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Portrait of a Nation project with showcase event in Liverpool in 2008. The work grew from the education programme within the The Bristol Story, the 2008 Great Reading Adventure
  • Darwin200: marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin in 2009, which included The Lost World Read
  • First Festival of Ideas prize for best book of ideas won by Flat Earth News by Nick Davies in 2009
  • BAC100: celebrating 100 years of aviation in the West of England in 2010