How the Festival of Ideas works
Information for new internal and external event co-ordinators and speakers
Public Engagement team
• Began in 2008
• Arts, humanities and social sciences
• 18,500 visits in 2013 (general audience of all ages)
• 215 events with over 170 free events
Public Engagement team
Nicola Buckley, Head of Public Engagement
Dane Comerford, Public Engagement Events Manager
Malavika Anderson, Festivals and Outreach co-ordinator (Arts,
humanities and social sciences)
Emily White, Festival Assistant
Sue Long, Festivals and Outreach co-ordinator
Shelley Bolderson and Lucy Spokes: Science Festival
Lloyd Mann, Online events assistant
Ellen Thornton, Bridge the Gap, Festivals and Outreach Officer
Temporary staff – marketing and PR (2 months each)
Who runs the events?
• 30 - 40 centrally organised events
• 130 internal event co-ordinators (Outreach Officers, Faculty
Administrators, Museum staff)
• 30 external event co-ordinators (local businesses, Higher
Education providers, community groups)
What’s the point?
To generate public interest in the arts, humanities and social sciences
To promote year-round access to museums and other University of Cambridge resources relevant to the
arts, humanities and social sciences
To engage with the Cambridge community, reach new audiences and build lasting relationships with new
groups and organisations
To contribute towards the University’s widening participation aims by providing events for school pupils at
primary and secondary level
To secure media coverage of the academics and partners involved with the Festival
Because it is fun!
How is it funded and what is the money spent on?
Supported through core University funding, corporate sponsorship, charitable trusts and in-kind support
Most departments provide rooms, staff time and equipment for free (advice on finding support for your
events can be found here). Some departments / organisations seek sponsorship or grants to support
their participation.
The Festival of Ideas central team have a budget that covers:
Volunteer T-shirts
Overall marketing for the Festival
Small contributions to support departmental events
Celebrity speaker expenses
Publicity materials production
Venue hire
Website, new media, videos
What does the central team do?
- Organise over 30 events: invite celebrities and speakers, research new topics, attend other events, book
venues, organise logistics, work with community groups and partners
- Keep event co-ordinators up-to-date via email and meetings, provide support and guidance
- Fundraising
- Manage the Festival website
- Produce the Festival programme and distribute
- Marketing and PR for the Festival as a whole
- Ensure health and safety and legal obligations are met across the Festival
- Recruit volunteers
- Main telephone information line (booking service)
- Monitor audiences
- Evaluate the Festival
Over 300 members of the public and students
Over 150 members of staff throughout the University organise, speak or
demonstrate at events
The Festival team recruit a team of volunteers to steward centrally
organised events and man the information points on the main day of the
Departments / external organisations should recruit their own volunteers
(Festival team can provide advice on recruitment or recruit extra volunteers
on behalf of Departments subject to enough notice being given)
Why do people volunteer?
To view and participate in events
To get an inside experience of a Festival
To give back to the community
Because they are passionate about the arts, humanities and social
sciences and want to share that passion
Marketing and PR
Work with the University News team to release stories, local and national press
Distribution service distribute publicity materials throughout the City and surrounding villages
Programmes are mailed to 1200 schools, community centres, businesses, tourist centres and libraries
What’s on websites are updated
Targeted email campaigns to local businesses, community groups and parish magazines
Social media
Banners and posters are put up around the City
Promotion days at major shopping centres in the city
Jon S
Pre-Festival events with community groups and centres
Press interviews with organisers and speakers
• Throughout the year, internal departments, speakers, volunteers and external
organisations approach us asking to take part
• Between January and June, the Festival team approaches departments, speakers and
external organisations to discuss their involvement
External organisations are welcomed into the programme
subject to:
Providing events which complement the existing programme
In-line with the Festival’s aims (more info here)
Level of support required from the Festival team
Ability to comply with health and safety and legal obligations
Financial support
Website and emails
• Website:
• Late events are added to the website and regular updates on
the programme can also be accessed via the website
• Over 2300 Facebook followers
• 1700 Twitter followers
• 9,000 subscribers to the public events mailing list (typically
emailed 3 times to let them know about the Festival)
How the programme is put together
• 6 June: Deadline for event submission
• 1 August: Programme goes to print
• 22 August: Programme back from print
• 22 / 25 August : Programme online
• 22 September: Bookings open
• 20 October: Festival starts
• 2 November: Last day of the Festival
Key Dates for the 2014 Festival of Ideas
• 6 June: Deadline for event submission
• 1 August: Programme goes to print
• 22 August: Programme back from print
• 22 / 25 August : Programme online
• 22 September: Bookings open
• 20 October: Festival starts
• 2 November: Last day of the Festival
• Inspiring Ideas for Year 9 students – co-ordinated by
Sue Long an Laura McGarty
• In 2012, 150 students, talks across the breadth of the
arts, humanities and social sciences , 5 colleges
• We approach lecturers to take part and also welcome
speakers contacting us
• The Festival team run the main Festival information
line (01223 766766)
• Bookings for our centrally organised events on the
phone and using
• Can support Faculties by taking bookings on their
behalf subject to capacity
• Booking for festival events opens on Monday, 23
September 2013
Running an event
20 October – 2 November
Email to discuss your ideas (you will be added to the mailing list to
receive updates about the Festival)
Book a room for your event
Invite speakers
Submit event proposal using the online event management system by 6 June
Event is accepted into the programme or we will discuss why it is not suitable
Programme and other publicity materials are distributed by central team, you are responsible for
specific event marketing
Ready for bookings opening on 22 September
Complete a risk assessment or submit PLI evidence (only for external organisations)
Provide your own volunteers (or notify us if you need help, we will provide T-shirts) and run the
How can I get involved?
I am part of the University
External to the University
I am interested in running an event
The Festival could not run without support in running the
events. If you can provide admin support to help run events
in your Faculty please contact us.
I am an organisation and I would like to run an event
Please have a look at this document: Taking part in the
Festivals and then get in touch so we can discuss your ideas.
I am a speaker
You can take part in our schools programme, in an event
organised by your own Faculty or an event organised by the
Festival team (subject to capacity). Please contact us to
discuss your ideas.
I am a speaker
Please do send us some information about your work and we
will be in touch to let you know if it fits in with the existing
programme of events. Please note 90% of Festival events are
free-of-charge and we rely on the majority of external
speakers waiving their fee.
I would like to volunteer
That’s great. You can get involved helping out at events in
your own Faculty (if you are from the University) or as a
general steward. Contact us and we can put you in touch
with the right person.
I want to volunteer
We have general stewarding opportunities which range from
manning information points, supervising queues to getting
involved in the action. Send us an email and we will add you
to our mailing list.
I am happy to invite speakers within the Faculty to take
If you can’t provide any admin support to run the events then
we can try and work your ideas and speakers from your
Faculty into our centrally organised events.
I am a community group / centre and would like to
We work with dozens of community groups each year and
there are plenty of ways we can work together, please get in
Contact details
• Malavika Anderson
• Festival of Ideas Co-ordinator
• Office of External Affairs and Communications, The Pitt Building,
Trumpington Street, Cambridge, CB2 1RP
• /
• 01223 764930
• Event co-ordinators’ webpage:

How the festival works - Festival of Ideas