The Big Draw Festival Launch 2016


Thursday 22 September, 2016

The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, UK, M15 6ER (map

We're over the moon to have kicked off The Big Draw Festival 2016 - the world's biggest drawing festival - at The Whitworth, the multi-award winning gallery in Manchester, on Thursday 22 September.


The Big Draw Festival

The Big Draw Festival is the world's largest celebration of drawing, which takes place from 1 to 31 October, every year. Following a high-profile launch at the Bodleian Libraries in Oxford, last year, thousands of The Big Draw Festival events took place in 26 countries on 7 continents.
Any individual, organisation or business can attend or register an event as part of the festival (at any time), which this year celebrates a STEAM theme as part of the charity's campaign to give arts parity with other subjects and turn STEM to STEAM.
On 22 October, highlight events will be taking place at The Whitworth, Manchester, and Royal Society, London, with the aim of demonstrating the important role of arts, especially visual literacy and drawing, alongside and within science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.


Why we launched in Manchester?

The city of Manchester, with its three Universities including The Royal Northern College of Music, has been home to innovation across sectors, from engineering and science, to business and the arts. Since the industrial revolution and development of the cotton industry, it has remained a giant melting pot that has influenced the world as we know it. So, we felt it was the perfect match for our STEM to STEAM Festival theme. 

The Whitworth, following extensive renovation, reopened in early 2015 and has since received multiple awards, including the Visit England Large Visitor Attraction of the Year (Gold Award), the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2015 and many more. The gallery is a beautiful building with several rooms of exhibitions, which held our wonderful programme of happenings on 22 September 2016.

"Drawing underpins everything we do at the Whitworth, as a gallery with drawings from across more than four centuries of artistic practice.  I'm delighted to welcome The Big Draw into our galleries to celebrate mark making in unusual ways that will engage even more visitors in the joy of drawing."

- Dr. Maria Balshaw. Director of The Whitworth


Here's what happened... (photos to follow!)

The launch of The Big Draw Festival began with an afternoon of interactive STEAM inspired drawing activities for children and families, followed by an illustration showdown for arts and sciences students and an evening of sci-art films, live drawing, music and experimentation for over 18s. 


Director of The Big Draw, Kate Mason annouced the launch of The STEAM Powered Big Draw Festival 2016, and welcomed participants to enjoy a range of diverse activities, including:

  • Performances from the immersive theatre group, Ready Steady Go! 
  • Interactive workshop with Okido, the Arts and Science Magazine for Kids
  • Live drawing by Manchester artist, Oliver East
  • Demonstrations by The Big Draw's newest ambassadors: teen 'wonder-cartoonist' Zoom Rockman, and Digital Portrait Artist Extraordinaire, Tanya Raabe-Webber
  • Early Years Atelier with Isobel Pickup
  • Minecraft workshop by Gemma Latham
  • Exploring the 'Evolution of the Peppered Moth' with Stanley Grove Primary School


Later that evening, The Big Draw took over Thursday Lates at The Whitworth with Sci-Art Experiments, which featured...

  • Sci-art experimentation in film, live drawing, and music
  • Live illustration showdown between arts and science students
  • The first screening of Lumen Prize Finalist, David Moraton's shortlisted film "Visus Sonitus I" in the North of England. Plus, a filmed Q&A about the film-makers' work, with special thanks to Lumen Prize
  • Sci-fi themed 'death drawing' with Art Macabre
  • Life drawing with Sarah Sanders
  • Drinks reception - of course


View full list of contributors, here.



The 2016 STEAM theme

This year, The Big Draw invites event organisers and attendees to be inspired by its STEAM theme. The STEAM Powered Big Draw Festival 2016 is part of the charity’s campaign to give Arts subjects parity with Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, so that STEM becomes STEAM.

The Festival will showcase how drawing, in the broadest sense, underpins STEM subjects and professional practice across a spectrum of disciplines - from physics to architecture and digital technology to baking. Through interactive workshops, films and talks, we are keen to showcase examples of how arts, science, and digital technology are interconnected.


 Further Information

This launch event is free and open to the public. It is organised by The Big Draw in partnership with The Whitworth and is supported by Arts Council England.