Session 6B - Pleasing all pleases none: opportunities and challenges of collaboration between science festivals across cultures and geographies

Room 3.22


Panel Discussion

Lucy Yeomans (University of Bath, UK); Laura Fogg-Rogers (University of the West of England, UK); Dane Comerford (IF Oxford, UK)

This panel presentation and discussion aims to address different aspects of collaborative practice. We seek to explore how flexible science communication can really be: how can we reconcile tensions between the local and general, between art and science audiences and events producers, or between good practice and pragmatism? In trying to please everyone, do we end up pleasing no one? Science festivals are a well-established feature of the science communication landscape with an annual UK audience exceeding one million face-to-face visitors. In recent years science festivals have developed to include interdisciplinary work as well as partnerships from outside traditional academic institutions in an effort to engage with new and diverse audiences. Alongside exploring opportunities for greater inclusivity, imaginative and ambitious programmes still face the basic challenges of time, space, resource and communication. This panel discusses the various challenges arising from hosting the project Unkindest Cut, a classical Indian dance performance, text, film and light installation about mental health which toured around six science festivals in 2018-2019, drawing from data obtained through interviews with festival organisers and focus groups and surveys with audience members. The mid-point of this research programme reveals perspectives on professional reflective practice between festivals, bridging the art and science paradigms and the practical implications of running a touring project which incorporates regional contexts.