Unique festival brings revolutionary research to life

5th September 2016

Revolutionary science and innovative art which is set to shape our future will be brought to life at the world's only festival of academic-city collaboration, taking place in Sheffield next month.

Festival of the Mind is an 11-day series of events that showcase pioneering partnerships between world-leading academics at the University of Sheffield and experts from the city's creative and cultural industries. The international festival has grown immensely since its launch in 2012, after receiving a 50 per cent increase in external funding with grants from Arts Council England and the Royal Society. Sheffield City Council is also a partner providing venues at no cost. This year, 46-academic-city partnerships will produce over 100 performances, exhibitions, virtual reality experiences and interactive events - transforming how we teach Sheffield's communities about the University's vital research. Festival Director Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Director of City and Cultural Engagement at the University of Sheffield, said: -Festival of the Mind is a unique collaboration between our leading academic expertise and the creative and cultural talent of our wonderful city there is nothing else like it in the world. -The festival offers an opportunity for people who are curious about research to learn and engage in the most innovative ways. It also introduces our students to Sheffield's unique creative individuals and businesses and offers them a fantastic opportunity to volunteer in public engagement. -We are delighted that grants from Arts Council England and The Royal Society will enable us to reach a wider audience than ever before. This year's events have been designed around six themes: Making, Journeys, Virtual, Local and Global, Activism and Utopia/Placemaking. A highlight of this year's festival will be 'Futurecade', a utopian vision of future realities in the digital sphere. The 15 intriguing projects will invite visitors to step into a world of virtual reality and get a glimpse of what life and art will look like in 2025. The Local and Global theme reflects the University of Sheffield's proud heritage as a truly global university with students from over 140 different countries. In 2013, Sheffield launched the award-winning #WeAreInternational campaign - which has now been backed by over 100 universities, education institutions and international organisations. #WeAreInternational aims to recognise the value of international scholarship and its contribution to the economy and culture. Enterprising University of Sheffield graduates will be giving festival-goers the opportunity to take part in a unique communal dining experience with their inspiring Foodhall project. Louis Pohl and Jamie Wilde launched their Freecycle food network to trial new ways of engaging the wider community through shared food. Now, their Eyre Street Cafe in the centre of Sheffield is a place where people are invited to cook or dine communally on a pay as you feel basis. The menu changes daily and the fridge is always stocked with food that may have otherwise been thrown away Architecture graduate, Louis Pohl, said: -The problems of food waste and social isolation are implicitly linked; they can be traced back to a lack of infrastructure for communal dining and food sharing. Every event in the festival is open to all and free of charge. Professor Shearer West, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Sheffield, said: -Festival of the Mind not only showcases the ground breaking research developed at the University, but it also highlights the vibrancy of the city of Sheffield. -This inspiring series of events brings our international research to life in an inventive and engaging way for the whole community to enjoy. -The festival is a great opportunity for our students from across the globe to make a difference in the city which becomes their adopted home. Other highlights of the Festival include: Gaiamycota Exhibition Saturday 17 - Sunday 25 September 2016 10am-5pm (except Wednesday 10am-9pm) Millennium Gallery Could fungus save the human race? Professor Duncan Cameron believes it could. His address to the World Climate Change Conference in Paris (2015) carried a stark warning: our planet is becoming infertile. But his message is optimistic. Gaiamycota uses sculpture, photography, film, sound and performance to explain how fungus could be used to re-engineer the planet's soil and save humanity. Dancing with Robots Saturday 17 - Sunday 25 September 10am-5pm, except Wednesday 10am-9pm Millennium Gallery Sheffield Robotics study the way humans work in order to make better robots. This breathtaking performance, featuring robots alongside human dancers, offers an entertaining glimpse of the future. It's interactive too. Using our special magic button, the audience decides what happens in the story of four-year old Jorge and his robot friend Nao. Sounds of the Birds Wednesday 21 September 6:10pm pre-concert talk; 7.30pm main performance Firth Hall, Firth Court, Western Bank Noah Kang performs Messiaen's epic piano cycle Catalogue d'Oiseaux, with breathtaking visuals by Human. Leading bird expert Professor Tim Birkhead, who provided the research that inspired the visuals, will introduce the piece. Messiaen's music reproduces the songs and calls of 77 species, and vividly describes their interactions with the landscape. This is an extraordinary performance of an extraordinary work: a fusion of science, music, nature and imagination. The Spiegeltent The magnificent Spiegeltent returns to Barkers Pool and will host talks by academics and artists, live comedy and music throughout the festival. A full programme of Festival of the Mind events can be found at www.sheffield.ac.uk/fotm For more information about the Foodhall please visit https://foodhalls.wordpress.com/

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