Kersten England, chief executive of Bradford City Council, led last night's debate by a panel made up of Tim Smith, acting head of BBC Yorkshire, Jo Quinton-Tulloch, director of the National Science and Media Museum, Sabbiyah Pervez, communities reporter at BBC Look North and Sajidah Shabir from Speakers' Corner, social space co-run by women and young girls.
The panel reflected on two recent schemes that had a shared ambition to "hand back media headlines" to the communities of the city – the BBC’s We Are Bradford campaign and an exhibition at The National Science and Media Museum called Above the Noise: 15 Stories from Bradford.
Joining the panellists at the event were people from the city who had appeared in We Are Bradford films and members of the public.
The panel and the audience discussed how media portrayal can influence the perceptions of a city, how they would like to see northern locations feature more on TV, and how there is a need for more schemes such as We Are Bradford and Above the Noise.
Mr Smith said: “People made some interesting points at the event about how the media has represented Bradford in the past and I share their concerns. But I also think things are changing with initiatives like We Are Bradford and people like Sabbiyah now part of the Look North team. We need the people of Bradford to tell us their stories and we need to listen.”
Jo Quinton-Tulloch said: “It was a great hearing from people such as 18-year-old Sajidah Shabir from Speakers' Corner, and the BBC communities reporter Sabbiyah Pervez, both from Bradford, who are proactively engaged in raising the city’s profile.
"And also from others who are passionate about Bradford and its representation.
"Our ambition is for the museum to continue to offer opportunities for discussion and debate through exhibitions, events and partnerships, which we hope will translate into stronger, positive perceptions of the city.”
The museum’s project Above the Noise: 15 Stories from Bradford brought together words and photographs, sound installations and new artworks.
It attracted more than 20,000 visitors over the course of its three-month run.
This exhibition then inspired the BBC’s media and arts correspondent David Sillito to come up with the idea for We Are Bradford.
We Are Bradford took place in March and saw BBC News come up with a week of news stories about the city across its national and regional outlets, podcasts, online platforms and on social media.
The BBC received 850 ideas for We Are Bradford stories from the public- either in person, online or via social media – and 50 stories have featured online.
We Are Bradford stories were accessed over five million times across online and social media in that week alone.
Bradford was the first venue for one of many similar BBC News projects, and We Are Middlesbrough took place in May, with more to come.
The event was part of an Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project called Bradford’s National Museum.
Bradford UNESCO City of Film, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, is working in partnership with BBC Yorkshire to show a selection of the We Are Bradford films on the big screen in City Park.
The films will be shown every day at 11.30am and 2pm.