South West News

We The Curious Joins UK Science Centres campaign

We The Curious, along with over 40 members of the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres (ASDC), has today joined the Science Centres For Our Future campaign, which is calling on the government to set up an Emergency Resilience Fund to support the UK’s world-class network of regional Science Centres.

 

 

We The Curious has been a successful self-sustaining charity since 2000 as Explore At-Bristol, with little or no direct government funding. Due to Covid-19, We The Curious closed its doors to visitors in March, pausing all education programmes and events, cutting off vital revenue streams for the charity. 

 

To highlight the crucial role that UK Science Centres play in making science accessible to all, We The Curious is joining a nationwide campaign which is being supported by some of the UK’s leading science advocates including Professor Alice Roberts.

 

The Science Centres For Our Future campaign (#ScienceCentresForOurFuture) supports ASDC’s submission to government, asking it to urgently grant £25 million in Emergency Resilience Funding to secure the future of the whole network of UK Science Centres. Future-focussed Science Centres like We The Curious cannot apply for the Arts Council or Heritage Emergency grants and, without government support, many UK Science Centres are at risk.

 

At a time when science is so important and with major global challenges ahead from both Covid-19 and climate change, science centres provide our regional cities and towns with crucial opportunities to access science, in an approachable and engaging way, helping to inspire our next generation of scientists and engineers.

 

Nationally, hands-on Science Centres like We The Curious welcome millions of people in regions outside London and contribute over £200 million per year to local economies.

 

We The Curious is so important for the South West region. Many will have fond memories of school visits and family days out, learning new things and being inspired by interactive and hands-on experiences such as Animate It, visits to the Planetarium, live science shows and more. Visitors, staff and volunteers have returned and told the team at We The Curious how they have been inspired by their visit to pursue careers in science – and more will follow in their footsteps.

 

But, in lockdown and without no or reduced revenue streams, Science Centres face a chronic funding gap. As charities, Science Centres like We The Curious cannot take on large debts as, whilst the furlough has been hugely helpful, costs like utility bills, insurance, payroll, site security and rents still need to be paid.

 

Donna Speed, Chief Executive for We The Curious said:

“Right now, We The Curious should be marking its 20th birthday, celebrating two decades of providing memorable experiences for our communities, inspiring children with science, and hosting some of the Bristol’s biggest cultural events, but instead we find ourselves struggling to survive and without financial support for our sector.

 

The relationship between science and society has never been more important, and science centres play a vital role in the public understanding of science, upon which our economy and resilience depends. As part of the Science Centres for Our Future campaign we are calling on government to provide urgent funding to ensure that we are still here to continue engaging, informing and inspiring the public in the years to come.”

 

Dr Penny Fidler, CEO of ASDC highlights:

“As a nation and as a global society we have some major challenges ahead, especially in relation to climate and coronavirus. To solve these challenges we need an entrepreneurial and scientifically engaged society. Science Centres unlock science for people, making it accessible and interesting to millions of children and adults each year. Without support we will start to lose these popular cultural resources that offer access into science for all.”

Alice Roberts, Professor of Public Engagement in Science, University of Birmingham and ASDC Patron, adds: 

 

“From We The Curious, the Glasgow Science Centre and the Eden Project, to the Centre for Alternative Energy and the Centre for Life in Newcastle - our Science Centres and museums are important as places where people can learn about many different branches of science, get inspired, and satisfy their own curiosity. These centres support hands-on learning for children, all the way through to lifelong learning for adults. Like many other cultural institutions, Science Centres are struggling at this time - they need our support. I hope the government can help them survive, so that they can continue their crucial work, making science accessible for everyone.”

ASDC and We The Curious are asking the public to support the Science Centres For Our Future campaign in two key ways:

·         Share your Science Centre photos and why you love them on social media, using the #ScienceCentresForOurFuture

·         Write to your local MPs asking them to support the creation of this Emergency Fund to secure the future of We The Curious (find a downloadable email on the campaign website)

 

With one voice championing the Science Centres, ASDC wants to let the government know how important these charitable enterprises are to our regions, and ask the government to save over 40 of these vital cultural and community resources, thousands of jobs, millions of annual visits and billions of individual discoveries.   

 

Photo Credits Julian Welsh, Lee Pullen & Dan Watkiss

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