My main project at the moment is the Being Human festival of the humanities. I work on this in my professional capacity at the School of Advanced Study, University of London.
Being Human started life in 2014 as the first (and only) national festival dedicated entirely to the humanities. It offers a forum for people to engage with some of the best work that is being done in the humanities and encourages researchers across disciplines to find inspiring and fun ways to involve non-academic audiences in their work.
In its first year the Being Human festival had:
- 162 free events
- 57 participating universities
- Over 100 participating cultural and community organisations including the British Museum, the Wellcome Collection and the National Museum of Scotland.
The programme for 2014 was diverse, with events taking place right across the country. I’ve written about some of my own contributions to the programme here and here and here. The events below however demonstrate some of the inspiring stuff that happened across the country.
Wilder Being: destruction and creation in the littoral zone – Orkney
We were thrilled to have an event in our programme as far north as the Outer Hebrides. We were even more thrilled that the project, Wilder Being: destruction and creation in the littoral zone, was so creative and evocative of that remote part of the country. The project brought together archeologists, artists and members of the local community to create a ‘wilder being’ costume. It also created this wonderful film, which taps into the mythology of the islands and, I think, into something important about the spirit of the Being Human festival itself.
Wealthy Weekend – Sheffield
The University of Sheffield curated a whole programme of events for Being Human 2014 based around John Ruskin’s famous quote that ‘there is no wealth but life’. In this video from their ‘Wealthy Weekend’ images and words from the Ruskin Collection, created for the workers of Sheffield over 130 years ago, along with the work of contemporary artists and people of Sheffield, were projected onto the front of the city’s Upper Chapel. The results were spectacular.
Forever Young: eight decades of youth culture told by people who were there – Manchester
As a born and raised Mancunian myself I was delighted to see ‘Forever Young’ take shape in the festival programme. The project was primarily a piece of documentary social history designed to bring together a group of North West residents to talk about experiences of being young over the past 80 years. A film of their activities was screened online and at a live event at Manchester’s Central Library. It was launched by former Hacienda D.J turned cultural historian and youth culture expert Dave Haslam.
These were just a few of the events and activities that made the Being Human festival such an amazing experience in 2014. The festival will return in 2015 for ten days of creative and inspiring humanities activity (12-22 Nov). If you are interested in getting involved in the festival please do get in touch.