UK Science Festivals Network Conference 2021 Programme

    08.55 – Hopin orientation 

    09.00 – SOS: state of the sector 

    10.00 – Hindsight is 2020: running a festival in a pandemic 

    11.00 – Stories of grassroots engagement 

    12.00 – A workplace inclusion journey OR The shift to remote culture 

    13.00 – COP26: Who’s doing what? OR How to approach diversity & inclusion strategically 

    14.00 – Introducing the Ideas Fund OR How design changed my mindset 

    15.00 – What should we be talking about today? 

    16.00 – Relational meetings 101 OR COVID and conspiracy theories 

    17.00 – YARA + DAVINA: our artistic response to 2020 

    18.00 – Conference ends 

    Optional activities: 

    09.45, 11.45 & 16.45 – Desk yoga 

    10.45 – Petting Zoo 

    9.45, 10.45, 11.45, 15.45 – Continue the conversation with our Stage speakers 



    SOS: state of the sector

    Whilst the pandemic and social distancing means we have to stay apart, festivals and live events have been adapting to find new ways of bringing us together. What have the cancellations and uncertainty meant for the sector, and how are we rebuilding in meaningful ways for the audiences we serve as we move into a new year?

    Ivvet Abdullah-Modinou (Chair of UKSFN), Laura Melissa Williams (Designer), Kathrine Bancroft (UKRI), Farrah Nazir (Wellcome Trust)



    Hindsight is 2020: running a festival in a pandemic

    There has been the unfortunate cancellation of many festivals across the live events sector in 2020. Those who were able to continue re-focused their energy towards the virtual space or took everything outside. Hear from those on the front lines as they discuss experiences of running large-scale events during the era of social distancing, lockdowns and tiers, and what lessons we can take into 2021 and beyond.

    Chair: Julie Fooshee (University of Edinburgh), Debbie McNeill (Glasgow Science Festival), Maddie Smart (Artreach)



    Stories of grassroots engagement

    What does community-led science engagement look like in the wake of COVID-19? Grassroot groups continue to be tremendously resourceful at responding to the needs of their audiences, and there’s a lot we can learn from them. Join Arun Bector (Project Manager, BME Housing Consortium), Marsha Fisher (Childrens Lead, Sutton Africation and Caribbean Cultural Organisation) and Anna Woolman (Engagement Manager, British Science Association) as they share their experiences of supporting and delivering relevant community science engagement during the pandemic.

    Anna Woolman (British Science Association), Arun Bector (BME Housing Consortium), Marsha Fisher (Sutton African and Caribbean Cultural Organisation)




    A workplace inclusion journey

    For the last few years, the British Science Association (BSA) has been on an equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) journey. A significant part of this has been building on its internal EDI capabilities. With support from SEA-Change Consultancy, the BSA has made changes to its workplace processes, including staff training and recruitment. Join Tinu Cornish (Managing Consultant, SEA-Change Consultancy) in conversation with Katherine Mathieson (Chief Executive, British Science Association) as they reflect on the steps taken so far of making organisation-wide change.

    Katherine Mathieson (British Science Association), Tinu Cornish (SEA-Change Consultancy)


    The shift to remote culture

    Most organisations quickly made the move to digital during 2020, with varying levels of success. But have we been looking at it all wrong? Instead of digital strategies, should we be more focused on the rise of remote culture? Now we are all consuming culture from our living rooms, how will we use this shift as content producers to better connect with our audiences? Join digital innovation expert Matt Locke as he talks through what works online and his reflections on how cultural organisations should move forward in 2021.

    Matt Locke (Storythings)



    COP26: Who’s doing what?

    Join this discussion session to find out who is planning what for COP26, and to share initial ideas and events your organisation is thinking about.

    Penny Fidler (Association of Science and Discovery Centres)


    How to approach diversity & inclusion strategically

    You’ve made a commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), but what’s next? Keen to make real change in your organisation, but not sure how to turn your ideas into something more strategic? Join EDI strategist Lenna Cumberbatch as she opens the floor to your questions on how to best approach EDI strategically within your work. Lenna has 20 years experience of working in the UK, USA, and EU across corporate, education, and health environments. She is currently completing a PhD on improving D&I via strategic change and holds senior EDI advisory positions for the Wellcome Trust and British Pharmacological Society.

    Lenna Cumberbatch (Diversity and Inclusion Strategist)




    How design changed my mindset

    Design thinking can have real impact in helping organisations change and adapt, which has never been more important than during a pandemic. In 2020 the UK Science Festivals Network partnered with the Design Council to support four festivals through a design framework that ultimately helped them rethink what they are doing and how. Join Elisa Valarani and Savita Wilmott to discuss how design was put into practice by festivals.

    Savita Willmott (Bristol Natural History Consortium), Elisa Valarani (Design Council)


    Introducing the Ideas Fund

    Find out more about the Ideas Fund – a new grants programme run by the British Science Association and funded by Wellcome. It will offer funding and support to communities to develop and test ideas that address problems related to mental wellbeing through linking them with researchers and public engagement professionals. In this session, we will outline how the design of the Fund was co-created with communities and researchers and say more about who the Fund is for and how it will work.

    Chris Manion (British Science Association), Gill Riches (British Science Association)



    What should we be talking about today?

    When was the last meeting you attended that started with this genuine invitation? In the workplace, meetings are for teams accustomed to working together, so they have agendas. A cornerstone of community engagement however, is the ability to put your agenda aside in order to be fully present so that sincere listening can take place. Join this session to hear reflections from Daniel Aguirre (Freelance Community Engagement Professional) and Ben Wiehe (US Science Festival Alliance) as they organised communities to share about the on-the-ground realities and priorities they are navigating. Learn how they went about creating a safe and brave space for listening and learning and how they challenged the audience to lean into their discomfort and engage in reflective practice.

    Daniel Aguirre (Science Festival Accelerator), Ben Wiehe (US Science Festival Alliance)




    Relational meetings 101

    Building trust and support within communities can be hard. Community organisers have been doing it for decades and one of the most powerful tools in their toolkit is the relational meeting. Relational meetings are motivated by genuine curiosity about other people, and seek to understand the interests, core values, and motivations of potential collaborators in the community. Join Froi Legaspi from Citizens UK for a crash course on how to have conversations that build momentum within communities and allow us to work more effectively towards social impact.

    Froi Legaspi (CitizensUK)


    COVID and conspiracy theories

    At the start of the pandemic, the World Health Organisation warned of an ‘infodemic’ of COVID-19 misinformation. Since then, conspiracy theories and ‘fake news’ have taken hold, perpetuated by social media. What role do event producers have in managing conversations and how can we best bridge the gap between science and conspiracy theories? Join Prof Joe Pierre as he talks through his research on why conspiracy theories around public health are so prevalent and how we can stand up for scientific knowledge using nuanced, considerate engagement.

    Joe Pierre (UCLA)



    YARA + DAVINA: our artistic response to 2020

    Live event organisers across the globe have had to shift to a new normal thanks to the pandemic. But how has it affected artists and their practice and what can we take forward with us? Join artistic duo YARA + DAVINA as they talk about their current public artwork ‘Arrivals + Departures’ and how, as creative problem solvers, they responded to the context of COVID-19, and adapted their work to the needs of the public. Reflecting on art’s role as a useful tool to support and connect people, they will talk about the increased need there will be for meaningful culture, in the aftermath.

    Yara El-Sherbini and Davina Drummond (YARA + DAVINA)



    9.45, 11.45 & 16.45

    Desk yoga

    Many of us have spent much of the last year hunched over makeshift workstations at the kitchen table or trying to get productive from our beds and sofas. If your body is craving a bit of physical activity or you are looking for a new opportunity to unwind whilst working from home, then get ready to try out some desk-based yoga! Suitable for complete beginners, this fun and practical session with yoga teacher Lucinda Toole will guide you through some simple exercises that you can use to stay active and feel better wherever you are.

    Lucinda Toole (Yoga Teacher)



    Petting Zoo

    Pop over to our virtual petting zoo and come face-to-face with a tech-savvy, real life goat. As Cronkshaw Fold Farm have discovered during the pandemic, there is no better way to spice up a conference call than by adding the animal kingdom into the mix! We guarantee this light-hearted session will be a fun time for all and definitely won’t get your goat.

    Click here to view the programme as  a PDF