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UK's only national humanities research festival announces funding awards to 41 universities and cultural organisations

Date: 10/06/2015

Following a national competition, 41 higher education and cultural institutions have been awarded small grants of up to £5,000 to participate in the only UK-wide humanities research festival, led by the School of Advanced Study (SAS) at the University of London.

The Being Human festival funding competition was launched in February, in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the British Academy and with support from the Wellcome Trust. To win one of the awards for funding, applicants had to successfully demonstrate how they would engage the public with humanities research, while highlighting its role in the cultural, intellectual, political and social life of the UK.

Funded events this year include an attempt to rebuild the architecture of Hull using a video game, bus stop poetry readings in Bristol, a ‘zombie walk’ around Mary Shelley's Dundee, and a ‘Shanty Mob’ pub crawl around Liverpool. This year there are also a number of designated ‘hubs’ for festival activity outside London. Universities in Aberdeen, Northumbria, Nottingham, Sheffield and Swansea will not only be coordinating festival activities but will be putting forward regional ambassadors to champion the festival. A preview of these events can be viewed online at bitly.com/fundedevents.

The 11-day festival will run from 12–22 November 2015. Free-to-attend public events will be held in museums, galleries, and cultural and community centres at locations across the UK.

Grant recipients were chosen from 100 innovative applications demonstrating the vitality and relevance of humanities research, said festival director, Professor Barry Smith of the School of Advanced Study. The funding awards will enable these institutions to showcase the very best research in the humanities, demonstrating the key contribution it makes to our understanding of the human world.

During the inaugural festival in 2014 more than 60 universities and cultural organisations organised over 160 free events sharing the best and most challenging thinking in the humanities with audiences across the country. Places are still available for self-funded events to be included in this year's programme. Applications should be made by 26 June via beinghumanfestival.org.

Chief Executive of the Arts & Humanities Research Council, Professor Rick Rylance, said: Last year's festival demonstrated the extraordinary range of work being undertaken in the humanities but also the genuine excitement that the humanities can generate. The AHRC is proud to be supporting what promises to be an even more comprehensive celebration of the study of what it means to be human.

Alun Evans, Chief Executive (Designate) of the British Academy, said: The British Academy is delighted to continue to support the festival as it highlights the impressive amount of exciting work happening in the humanities in the UK.

Find out more about the festival at www.beinghumanfestival.org and follow the latest news about the festival on Twitter at @BeingHumanFest.

A reception for the award winners and to mark the launch of the Being Human festival will be held on Wednesday 10 June at 5.15–8pm at Senate House, University of London. Journalists interested in attending should contact Lauren Adams at lauren.adams@sas.ac.uk or +44 (0)20 7862 8666.

Notes to Editors

  • Being Human: a festival of the humanities 12–22 November 2015 – Led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy, Being Human is a national forum for public engagement with humanities research. The festival will highlight the ways in which the humanities can inspire and enrich our everyday lives, help us to understand ourselves, our relationships with others, and the challenges we face in a changing world, and foster world-class knowledge that is vibrant, vital, and accessible to all. For more information, please visit www.beinghumanfestival.org or follow the festival on Twitter at @BeingHumanFest
  • The School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London, is the UK's national centre for the promotion and support of research in the humanities and celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2015. Officially opened in 1995 by Sir Anthony Kenny as a federation of the University of London's research institutes, it has established itself as the UK's national humanities hub, publicly funded to support and promote research in the humanities nationally and internationally. SAS and its member institutes offer unparalleled academic opportunities, facilities and stimulation across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. In 2013-14, SAS: welcomed 743 research fellows and associates; held 2,081 research dissemination events; received 26.4 million visits to its digital research resources and platforms; and received 202,891 visits to its specialist libraries and collections. Find out more at www.sas.ac.uk or follow SAS on Twitter at @SASNews.
  • The Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK. 
  • The British Academy is the UK's expert body that supports and speaks for the humanities and social sciences – that rich variety of disciplines that study peoples, cultures and societies, past, present and future. It funds research across the UK and in other parts of the world, in disciplines ranging from archaeology to economics, from psychology to history, and from literature to law. The British Academy seeks to raise understanding of some of the biggest challenges of our time through policy reports, forums, conferences, publications and public events. The Academy receives around £30m a year in Government grants to support its work. But it operates autonomously as a Fellowship of more than 1,000 of the world's most eminent scholars in the humanities and social sciences, elected for their outstanding research. For more information, please visit www.britishacademy.ac.uk. Follow the British Academy on Twitter @britac_news.
  • The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health. We provide more than £700 million a year to support bright minds in science, the humanities and the social sciences, as well as education, public engagement and the application of research to medicine.


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