It takes strong networks, good communication, and clout to bring together Sydney’s six universities, state and local governments, scientific and cultural institutions, and other organisations together under one National Science Week banner. The aim? To bring science to a city of 4.3 million people.
For ten days in August 2016, the Sydney Science Festival saw 63 different organisations unite to deliver more than 100 talks, hands-on experiences, workshops, shows and exhibitions across the city. From experiencing CERN’s Large Hadron Collider at the Powerhouse Museum, to biohacking at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, family fun at Science in the Swamp at Centennial Parklands, and the rock star of astrophysics Brian Cox live on stage.
Tens of thousands of people attended—not bad for a festival that didn’t exist two years ago.
“Sydney Science Festival proves that collectively we can make so much more impact when we work together under a united festival banner,” says Jackie Randles, Inspiring Australia manager for NSW.
Previously there had been plenty of interest in National Science Week in Sydney, but it was uncoordinated.
Jackie saw a role for Inspiring Australia to play, holding three stakeholder briefings each year and bringing the major players together to contribute to a four-page newspaper lift-out and later, a website advertising the program.
“As a group agreed we would come together under the banner of the ‘Sydney Science Festival’ and have a coordinated marketing approach,” says Jackie.
This also helped align National Science Week in Sydney’s event calendar, alongside other flagship events like Sydney Writers’ Festival and Sydney Jazz Festival.
The first Sydney Science Festival saw 50,000 people take part, doubling the estimated number of people who got involved in National Science Week in Sydney the previous year.
Jackie is continuing to broaden the reach of the festival, with 2016 seeing new presenting partners including NIDA, Museum of Contemporary Art, Australian Documentary Forum, Black Dog Institute and Australian Financial Review, which hosted a huge Innovation Summit.
Sydney Science Festival is produced by Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) in partnership with Inspiring Australia.
Photo credit: Sydney Science Festival, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences