@ImperialCollege is part of #FestivalUK2022 that aims to reach 66 million people globally 

Imperial scientist, Dr Emma Lawrance, is part of a creative team that has been selected for the first phase of developing Festival UK 2022, a national event that aims to celebrate the UK’s creativity and innovation through ambitious public engagement initiatives.

Lawrance’s team, a partnership led by the Eden Project and comprising of five other leading creative organisations and individuals, is one of thirty across the UK to be selected in a highly competitive process. Each of these shortlisted creative teams will receive £100,000 to develop their “earth-shattering” ideas for the festival.

“It's an exciting and unique opportunity to be part of such an ambitious creative process that aims to be both spectacular and personal, bringing people together in shared explorations that can create lasting change. I’ve been immersed in working with a huge range of creative and inspiring people. It’s great to see the different perspectives but shared creativity, curiosity and play that spans across science and the arts. I’ll be involving wider colleagues at Imperial, such as the Helix Centre and Grantham Institute, to ensure our wider STEM expertise fuels what we hope will be a very compelling, memorable and meaningful Festival,” said Lawrance.

Martin Green, Head of Ceremonies in the London 2012 Olympic Games, is spearheading the Festival that aims to "bring people together to celebrate our strengths, values and identities", and to "celebrate our offer to the world". He said the festival - which will coincide with the Queen's Platinum Jubilee and other landmark events - was to be "aggressively modern and forward-thinking".

Vicky Brightman, Head of Public Engagement at Imperial, was instrumental in Imperial’s involvement in the successful application. “It’s an incredible opportunity to be part of one of the most ambitious public engagement initiatives ever planned. Due to our strong reputation in STEM and public engagement, we were approached by a number of creative organisations to join their teams.”

The thirty teams have until the end of January to research and develop their ideas, at which point they will pitch their plans in a bid to become one of the final 10 commissions. Winning teams will then be awarded up to £10 million to bring their ideas to life as part of the festival.

“Whether or not our creative team wins the next large award for funding, I’m sure Imperial will play a key role in Festival 2022. We can do so through our own Great Exhibition Road Festival which shares many goals with the wider UK festival.” The Great Exhibition Road Festival is a partnership between Imperial and cultural institutions on and around Exhibition Road that celebrates science and the arts through public activities, talks and performances.

Who’s on the team?

Photo of the domes of the Eden ProjectThe team is made up of creatives, innovators and engagement professionals including:

  • Eden Project – A botanical garden and education charity that attracts 1 million visitors to its Cornwall destination, plus over 6 million people through nationwide community programmes.
  • Dr Emma Lawrance - Mental Health Innovations Fellow at the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial. Lawrance leads mental health research and innovation in partnership with digital mental health charities, and has developed the Climate Cares project responding to mental health needs related to climate change.
  • Marshmallow Laser Feast and Studio Swine – Two art studios with extraordinary portfolios of immersive installations.
  • Isaiah Hull – A noir writer and young poet exploring and challenging the extremities of self.
  • Dr Amit Patel – A disability rights campaigner and diversity and accessibility consultant.
  • DC Thomson – A Scottish publishing and television company best known for the Beano and Stylist magazine.

The festival also aims to support new talent and give a platform to lesser-heard voices, so team members bring a variety of experience.

What will the team be doing for the festival?

The teams won’t know this until the end of January. The initial funding has been awarded to teams for them to develop ideas over the next two months through workshops. This approach to the Festival programming is unique, "We were convinced we could come up with more innovative and intriguing ideas if we asked everybody to combine their creative talents from the outset," Green told journalists.

“Festival UK 2022 demonstrates the importance of public engagement in the sense that the government is funding this major initiative to support innovation and creativity in STEAM,” says Brightman.

Imperial is renowned for the importance it places on engaging with wider society. It has an ambitious strategy dedicated to enabling a culture of engagement at Imperial.

“I want to thank all the Imperial researchers who took a leap of faith and offered to get involved or help with this amazing opportunity,” said Brightman.

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