John Baruch: How the Festival came to Bradford

The British Science Festivals are such busy and exciting events; everyone wants to be there or at least seen to be there: a sort of science community ball. There is everything to do with science and people who want to know about science, with lots of scientists looking for new ways of developing investigations and new people to work with. Every bit of science seems to be there and one area that is always discussed in detail is the science festival itself; how it is developing, who has come and who hasn’t; the old,  the young, the families, men and women from all walks of life.  What has been learned and what could be better done next year?

At the Liverpool Festival in 2008 it was clear in the coffee bars and corridors that the festival organisers were  thinking about adopting some permanent homes for the Festival. It is an enormous boost for any university to host the British Science Festival and endows great kudos on the city which for a short week becomes an international science centre.

I wondered if it could come to Bradford. Martyn Chesters is a science enthusiast representing Yorkshire Forward in Bradford. He also thought it would be wonderful to bring it to Bradford and the half a million pounds it would cost would not be too difficult to find. In a few days we had caught the dream with the Vice-Chancellor, Mark Cleary, and Rowland Jackson, from the Festival. Then the hard work of getting funding began!

The real protagonist in this process was Martyn. He thought it might be possible to obtain European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) financial support to enable the festival to be delivered in Bradford. It was Martyn who led the team that discussed the opportunities available with Paula Shelley, the Yorkshire ERDF manager, along with Councillor David Green.  He came up with the innovative and new process of increasing the ERDF money available to Bradford. He realised that this process could short circuit the long and winding route to ERDF monies in time for the Festival to take place.

With Paula persuaded the real work began. Helen of Space Connections found the funds to employ Amber Ross, a real ERDF expert, almost full time on the project. The team under Janet Hulse at the Council in David Green’s office got down to business. The ERDF team at Yorkshire Forward and James Margerrison joined up to bring the music of a Bradford Science Festival to the ears of the ERDF board.  A first two pager got the process going, before a business plan to ensure that the Festival had a positive impact on Bradford business development and job creation. It was the start of 2011 before the final business plan stage had been approved and everyone could plan their outfits for the ball.