Thanks to Jackie Randles for the event overview.
Sydney’s science community is collaborating for National Science Week this year and for the first time, presenting a united front under the banner of the Sydney Science Festival. Coordinated by Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, the Festival’s official NSW National Science Week launch event last Thursday evening at the Powerhouse Museum attracted around 2000 people to MAASive Lates: Science. This free, over 18s science-themed party offered a cold fusion of performances, opportunities to speed meet a scientist and hands-on activities.
With a fantastic line up of around 80 events across 40 venues, the Festival program features some of the world’s leading names in science like astrophysics’ pop hero Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson, space tweeting and singing astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield, and Stanford University’s own genetic guru Professor Kelly Ormond. Dozens of local experts are on the bill with a number of high profile partners joining the celebrations to cohost events including The Sydney Morning Herald, Intel and Google.
The NSW Executive Committee for Inspiring Australia and National Science Week has been working to encourage this level of collaboration for several years so it goes without saying that its members are thrilled with the initial results. It’s been a remarkable effort on both the part of the hard working Festival team at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences and all of the presenting partners to turn on this high quality program so quickly. Initial interest from audiences and media alike shows that our combined efforts are amplifying the community engagement results for National Science Week across Sydney, and I’ll be really interested to see how we track against last year’s results. Our hope is that in time, we can achieve the same level of recognition and participation for science as other prominent Festivals do for film, books and the arts – all popular, highly visible celebrations that add to Sydney’s appeal and cultural capital.
At the Festival’s conclusion there will be a high level meeting at which a wide group of senior leaders will be invited to share their views about the Festival’s future directions. At a time when outreach spending by universities typically has a strong connection to research funding and student recruitment, and when cultural institutions are increasingly dependent on strong revenue streams, negotiating outcomes that are beneficial to all is complex. But the benefits of collaborating as a group of science leaders far outweighs the costs and the time is ripe for us to work together to promote the importance of science investment for Australia’s economic and social wellbeing – not just now but into the future. Have a fantastic National Science Week everyone and I hope that you can get along to lots of events.
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Event: Sydney Science Festival
Dates: 13 – 23 August, 2015