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Science festival successes in 2017

Norwich Science Festival 11 - credit Simon Finlay Photography

Header image: Norwich Science Festival

By Anna Woolman, UKSFN coordinator 

The UKSFN had a great year. We welcomed new members, held the inaugural UKSFN Conference and, with support from Research Councils UK (RCUK), facilitated a flagship project to engage young people from low socioeconomic areas with science through their local science festival.

Not only did we accomplish all the above, but as a collective the Network continued to reach and enthuse over a million people through 3,525 individual events. Of course, there wouldn’t be any festivals without the efforts of the people on and behind the stage, and in 2017 UKSFN members were able to succeed because of the involvement a staggering 10,573 scientists, researchers and presenters, and 4,530 volunteers. All this is packaged into a neat little infographic.

The eagerness and passion which oozes out of all those involved in facilitating science festival events is infectious and is what keeps us all going through the, at times, stressful aspects of festival organisation. So as a Network, we want to say thank you to everyone who dedicates their time, energy and creativity to engaging the public with science through festivals, and seeing another year through!

We should celebrate the above successes which show that festivals continue to be a key means to get the public involved with science. But we mustn’t get complacent – there’s always improvements to be made. For example, the inclusivity of science engagement activities in general continues to be an issue, as emphasised by Emily Dawson’s recent publication which sheds light on how low-income minority ethnic groups are inherently excluded from such activities. The RCUK/UKSFN project brought us a little closer to integrating young people from low socioeconomic backgrounds into the science festival audience and many of our members do some excellent work with their local communities, but as a sector we still have a way to go in levelling the playing field in terms of accessibility for all. As a key player in science engagement, we have a responsibility to break down such barriers, and as a Network, in 2018, we will continue to question and challenge our members by fostering open and honest discussions about our practices.

Here’s to 2018!

Have any comments? Please get in touch with info@sciencefestivals.uk