When the Festival started, a decade ago, Wikipedia was a pretty crazy notion, Facebook was a mild irritant among Harvard students, Twitter was not even a remote possibility, and 40% of our visitors didn’t use a computer to view the programme. The figure now is 25%, so progress has been made, though not as fast as you might think.
When we started people thought a Science Festival was a ridiculous idea. You couldn’t have the words ‘science’ and ‘festival’ in the same sentence; there was just nothing remotely like fun in science. Now we have been joined by the Digital Festival, the Big Bang, the Mini Maker Faire, and there are three science toyshops in Brighton alone. Applications for the science courses in both Universities are up, and Sussex businesses are joining the party.
When we started, what we’re doing was called the ‘Public Understanding of Science’. Eventually someone spotted that the acronym PUS, had unfortunate connotations, so they decided upon the ‘Public Engagement with Science and Technology’, or PEST for short… so that didn’t last long. Nowadays we do Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, or STEM (though some say the Arts ought to be added in, to make STEAM). We welcome all science – all the -ologies. Except astrology; but who knows what the future may bring?
When we started there were four events. This year there are seventy four. We only just made it though. Funding cuts last year saw three quarters of our sponsorship disappear. But thanks to all the people who responded to our appeal, we plugged the gap. You are all stake-holders now. Keep telling us how to improve it, what you want in 2016, and where to go in the next ten years.
Richard Robinson, Director Brighton Science Festival