Thinking about festivals

The biggest Festival for Cumbria…

About two years ago I was very excited to be involved in EnergyUnearthed, an internatioEnergyUnearthed - A new festival in Cumbria.pngnal festival of Energy in Cumbria. The proposal for this science and engineering festival was hugely ambitious. The festival was to cover the whole of Cumbria at least. We would run free fun family festivities, a year-long STEM education programme,a trade show or two, TED-x type talks, street theatre science shows, and seminars. We wanted to co-promote existing events and activities that could fit under our umbrella theme including academic conferences, business events and local festivals. The premise was even more ambitious: we wanted to showcase to the world the position of Cumbria as a centre for world-leading energy industry and research. Climate change was part of this broad theme too, and we were sure this would spark off interest and debate.

So what happened?

I organised, promoted and ran a couple of great, but small pilot events. A consultation event for teachers, hosted by the generous Newton Rigg College, and a family friendly event at the wonderful Heron Mill in south Cumbria  were very well received. Over more than 18 months, we had long and multiple conversations with potential funders and supporters. Most of the conversations were enthusiastic (“What a great idea! It is what Cumbria needs”) but circular, as they often are when it comes to funding (“If so-and-so will fund, we may consider it too”). There were also a few, but only very few, sadly short conversations. And the energy in us started to run out. So EnergyUnearthed has been put to sleep, hopefully only temporarily.

Lessons and daydreams

But in the meantime… I still daydream about a festival near me. I still believe that there is a big gap between the reality and the public perception of  industry, science and engineering in Cumbria.  And this is what I would like to address. I have learnt that “ambitious” is not always best. So this time I will start small. Perhaps this should be a long weekend celebrating industry and STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) in Carlisle?

Celebrating Industry in Carlisle

Maybe I should I go back to my original plan and focus on Cumbria’s capital and its great industrial history, current science & engineering companies, and future opportunities for all.

Why ever not? Answers below please…

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