Capital of the Minho Province with approximately 182,000 inhabitants, Braga is one of most vibrant technology hubs in North Portugal. In the late 20th century, the city bore witness to a new generation of artists and entrepreneurs that transformed the local creative ecosystem by combining art with technology and innovation. Ever since, Braga hosts high profile and international state-of-art tech companies, and media arts is currently the main driver of the local creative economy representing half of the employment in the sector and 40% of the enterprises. For Braga, media arts also provide an opportunity to engage its citizens in re-thinking the city by reinforcing linkages between art, science, technology and sense of community.
The multidisciplinary GNRation Centre has been established to improve access to new media and cultural activities, with a focus on raising public awareness surrounding the artistic value of digital technologies through interactive workshops. Connecting art with technology, the Braga Semibreve Festival is now an internationally renowned, cross-cutting electronic music and media arts event, featuring avant-garde artists from around the world. Focused on audiovisual performances and experimental live electronic music, the festival offers an immersive visual and sonic experience. The festival also displays works developed by students from the engageLab of the Minho University; an institution recognised for its advanced ICT based research.
In recent years, Braga has implemented a strategy aimed at supporting the media arts and creative industries, nurturing an already thriving cultural ecosystem. It aims to generate employment opportunities, to promote and showcase emerging digital talents and strengthen the economic impact of the creative field. The city also launched a new media art residency and a start-up hub to provide further support to media arts thinkers and entrepreneurs through regular international roadshows.
As a Creative City of Media Arts, Braga envisages:
- promoting media arts in learning programmes to foster a highly skilled and talented future generation;
- valuing the history and memory of the city through artistic creation and the use of technologies;
- establishing a Media Arts Centre designed to broaden opportunities for creators and professionals;
- promoting production and dissemination of cultural good and services, supporting the creation of new companies and organising an International Media Arts Festival to showcase local talents;
- creating a Researcher Exchange Programme; a platform to promote the transnational mobility of researchers in the field of media arts; and
- generating, in cooperation with other Creative Cities, opportunities for entrepreneurs in cross-cutting collaborations between art, science and technology.