Visit York Conference 2020

By Greg McGee

Visit York Conference 2020

We run a contemporary art gallery in York. York is an increasingly great place for us. Very few places possess such a complex continuum, all the way from the Celts and into the digital age. As an art gallery, we like to reflect that continuum. 

Last week's Visit York Conference most certainly reflected it, and we were honoured to receive an invitation to attend and listen to inspirational speakers and network at York Racecourse. Speakers included Paul Whiting, Head of Marketing for Visit York and Make it York; Anthony Pickles, Head of Tourism Affairs of Visit Britain; David Horne, Managing Director of LNER; Melanie Sensicle, Project Director of England Original; Phil Pinder of Potions Cauldron; Mark Mattinson of City Cruises York; Louise Gee of the Grand York; Abbi Olive of Castle Howard; Andrew Palmer, Director at Creative Tourist. Without these people, and the hundreds of hard working staff who provide such a fertile infrastructure for creatives like us, we would have fallen by the wayside a long time ago.

The day hit the ground running with the manifesto that participating in York is a celebration that builds on the past rather than lives on it. Heritage is great, we love history, but York isn't Beamish, nor is it a museum. The contemporary scene, with its cafes, its cinema, its galleries, show that York thrives rather than merely survives. 

York isn't a nostalgia act that shuffles onto the stage to give us its greatest hits: this is a hungry, innovative city that is relevant and competitive and can go duke for duke with any great cities in Europe. Food, Art, Innovation are increasingly important reasons to experience York on every level.  Contemporary energy comes very naturally to this city.

It was also a day for us to consolidate old friendships and forge new friendships. Knaresborough's Mother Shipton's Cave, Will Zhuang's Chinese projects, Castle Howard, Little Vikings lunch didn't only provide an opportunity to sample the international food (Tacos de Papa to die for!), it was also an hour's worth of focused networking, culminating with us wishing our friends in China a Happy New Year in Mandarin via satellite! 

Lastly, we are a family led business. Our children love to get involved in not only the gallery but the city that has helped us so much. It's always great to rewatch clips of the Mini McGees in promo films for Jorvik, Bettys, Castle Howard, and Visit York itself. Here's one of the clips featuring the thespian swagger of our offspring:

All in all, a reassuring, exciting, proactive day. Look back on 2019 with us

- and let's a glass of York Gin to 2020!