Many universities are involved in festivals, which can be an effective opportunity to engage with the public, making the most of the knowledge and talents of staff and students. This includes: universities organising their own festivals (e.g. Cambridge's Festival of Ideas); universities participating in other festivals (e.g. UWE and University of Bristol participating in the Bristol Festival of Nature); and students working with organisations at music festivals such as Glastonbury (e.g. through Oxfam).
We commissioned the University of Cambridge’s Public Engagement team, together with Dr Eric Jensen of the University of Warwick, to explore the involvement of universities in festivals. The research included surveys of festival organisers and participants, to gather evidence on the various ways that festivals are developed and delivered, and the role of students in this activity. We then developed a range of resources to showcase effective practice, and to help universities and festival organisers involve university staff and students in successful public engagement.
Here you can download the two publications we have produced from this work.
The Role of University Student Volunteers in Festival-based Public Engagement
The Role of University Student Volunteers in Festival-based Public Engagement presents our research exploring the role of university students in festival-based public engagement. It finds that University student volunteers play a key role in making festivals effective spaces for public engagement. Not only do they bring enthusiasm - which was identified as invaluable for enhancing visitor experiences - but they provide crucial human resource without which many cash-strapped festivals could not successfully operate.
University Engagement in Festivals: Top Tips and Case Studies
University Engagement in Festivals: Top Tips and Case Studies is a practical guide to some of the different aspects of engaging with festivals. The Top Tips cover:
- Involving Student Volunteers in Festivals
- Effective Co-operations between Universities and Festivals
- Organising Stands / Drop-in Events at Festivals
- Marketing Educational Festivals to the Public
- Evaluating Educational Festivals
These are then illustrated by five case studies of university student engagement in festivals.