Festival of the Mind returns to Sheffield for 10th anniversary

2nd September 2022

One of the biggest festivals in Sheffield is set to return in full to the city, including the iconic Spiegeltent in Barker’s Pool, for its 10th anniversary this month (15-25 September 2022), with a programme of free events that are bigger than ever.

  • Festival of the Mind, an 11-day programme of events in which Sheffield’s creative industries bring University of Sheffield research to life, is returning to the city for its 10th anniversary
  • Free and open to all, the festival includes activities, animations, exhibitions, films, performances, podcasts and talks for the public to explore University research that is helping tackle some of the biggest issues throughout society
  • This year’s events are based around the themes of Celebration, Exploration, Innovation, Regeneration and Wellbeing, including events that shine a light on issues that are hidden from public discourse or are taboo. 

One of the biggest festivals in Sheffield is set to return in full to the city, including the iconic Spiegeltent in Barker’s Pool, for its 10th anniversary this month (15-25 September 2022), with a programme of free events that are bigger and better than ever.

Festival of the Mind, an 11-day festival, sees Sheffield’s cultural, creative and digital industries collaborate with some of the city’s brightest academic minds to help bring their research to life in exciting, entertaining and innovative ways. The festival, which has brought more than 150,000 visitors into Sheffield city centre since 2012, is back with a series of free events, including activities, talks, performances and exhibitions that are open to everyone.

The biennial festival gives people the chance to explore some of the latest research from the University of Sheffield - brought to life by creatives - all of which are helping to tackle some of the most pressing issues affecting people throughout South Yorkshire and the rest of the UK.

This year’s festival will see Sheffield’s creative industries help showcase the University’s very latest research around the themes of Celebration, Exploration, Innovation, Regeneration and Wellbeing, including events that shine a light on issues that are hidden from public discourse or are taboo. 

More than 75 events will be held at the festival this year, in-person at venues across Sheffield, including in the festival’s hub in the iconic Spiegeltent in Barker’s Pool - a visual fixture of the festival which was recreated digitally in 2020. In addition to the in-person activities there will be lots of additional content on the festival’s website which will go live on 15th September including films, podcasts and additional material to support the festival. Highlights include:

  • Love Should Not Hurt: A Way Out - a performance exploring domestic abuse and the barriers to seeking help faced by minority ethnic women, particularly during the pandemic.
  • Voice Works: singing as speech therapy - a podcast and workshop on how music and singing-related therapy can help people with voice problems, such as Inducible Laryngeal Obstruction (ILO) - a disease that causes difficulties breathing and has increased since the pandemic.
  • How Can You Avoid Dementia and An Artistic Journey to Describing Dementia - a stall exploring the lifestyle choices we can make to help prevent dementia and artwork created by a resident artist in collaboration with people, carers and families of dementia patients describing their journey through dementia.
  • A Learning Journey About Refugees in Calais - the screening of a documentary film on migration and refugees in Calais and the way in which the global issue of migration is represented in the media.
  • Visualising Flood Simulations - a chance for people to use the next generation of flood simulation software, which is being designed to help make flood modelling more accessible to the public and more reliable in predicting the potential impact of flooding on our towns and cities. 
  • Fertile - a theatre performance based on a young man’s experience of coming to terms with infertility following cancer treatment at the age of 19, followed by a Q&A with a fertility expert, to help tackle the taboo surrounding young people and infertility. 
  • Battledress - a gallery exploring working class women’s fashion, fighting and the rituals of getting ready and going out. The event encourages people to reflect on their own experience of coming of age through music, fashion and rebellion.
  • Suzy Homemaker - a dance performance portraying three women throughout history trapped in a gendered role they didn’t ask for. A post-show panel discussion will explore mental well-being, flight and fright responses, and the impact on brain and body of being trapped in a role imposed by society. 
  • Yes, it’s plastic, but.. - an interactive installation inviting people to engage with conflicting views around plastic packaging, reuse and what it means to be environmentally friendly.
  • Ownership and the Price of Empire - an interactive virtual display encouraging people to engage with debates and dialogue around the repatriation of ‘stolen’ museum objects implicated by Britain’s imperial past and consider how we can transform museums for the 21st century.
  • Integration Explorations: Stories of Young People in Sheffield - a documentary film screening and live performance focusing on the power of young people as artists, sharing their experiences of integration in Sheffield.
  • Cultural Futures - These are a series of talks across the festival, which will shine a light on four city centre cultural projects that include major building developments. Cultural Futures includes talks about the major renovation of Leah's Yard, the exciting Fargate development Future High Streets Fund, the repurpose of Canada House into Harmony Works and a look at The Montgomery Theatre and arts centre the past and future.

Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Director of City and Culture at the University of Sheffield, said: “We’re excited to bring Festival of the Mind back in full to the city of Sheffield this year and I am especially looking forward to welcoming visitors back to the Spiegeltent in Barker’s Pool. The festival is a brilliant opportunity for people to explore research that is taking place at the University - everything from the latest medical and scientific discoveries through to research that is delving into the big issues affecting our everyday lives. 

“Some of these projects are shining a light on important issues in society that would otherwise remain hidden from public discourse, others are tackling challenges we know but are yet to address, so the festival is a great opportunity for people from throughout South Yorkshire and beyond to get involved and really immerse themselves in a subject that appeals to them. 

“Each time we run the festival it gets bigger and attracts more visitors into Sheffield city centre, which is great to see for businesses and the cultural vibrancy of our city, adding to the fantastic lineup of events we have in Sheffield throughout the year. We’re really looking forward to working with our partners throughout the city, including Sheffield City Council and Sheffield’s brilliant cultural, creative and digital industries. We hope as many people as possible can join us and explore what we have to offer.”

For more information on Festival of the Mind, including the full programme of events, visit: https://festivalofthemind.sheffield.ac.uk/2022/ 

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