Monday, 30 July 2012

Seeking Perfection scoops public engagement prize

Manchester Science Festival is part of a team that has scooped a prize in a European competition for best innovations in University outreach and public engagement.

A creative project called Seeking Perfection has been awarded the ‘Recognition of Distinction’ as part of the ‘EngageU’ programme. Over 100 projects were submitted from Universities across Europe, but this project was selected because of the quality of the collaboration between The University of Manchester, Nowgen, Contact Theatre and the Manchester Science Festival. The creative approaches used made this a distinctive and innovative project. The project team created a short video about the project. To watch this, please: click here 

Natalie Ireland, Director of Manchester Science Festival and Kate Dack, Nowgen's Public Programmes Manager were delighted that the Seeking Perfection project was recognised for its creativity and the depth of the engagement process.
The Seeking Perfection project explored human enhancement - which provides a rich vein for public engagement, exploring issues such as boosting athletic performance, taking stimulant drugs to improve memory and using plastic surgery. A team of 15 young people worked with researchers, ethicists and artists over a six week period to develop a performance about enhancement with creative partners. This was delivered in unusual settings, such as busy shopping centres, to reach local communities who would not typically engage with biomedical science. Seeking Perfection successfully promoted engagement with local communities.

The performance was then taken to the Zion Arts Centre, complimented with a public debate on issues brought up in the project. Andy Miah, Sarah Chan, Mark Gasson and David James were on the panel and expertly discussed and debated the issues with a lively audience. 

The project team had diverse backgrounds, but they were able to share their strengths to allow everyone to try something new. The Seeking Perfection project is contributing towards building a society where all can realise their potential. In this project the young people worked successfully as collaborators with university researchers, artists and also with other professionals in the team.

Seeking Perfections performers take to the stage
Many of the teenagers involved described being more intrigued by science after the project. One said: “I thought when I finished school I would never have to think about science again, and I’ve learnt it’s around us all the time and I should maybe pay more attention. I might blink and the world could be a completely different place.”

Seeking Perfection relied on the talent and experience of researchers within the University of Manchester, the enthusiasm and creativity of young people involved and the artistic backgrounds of Contact Theatre and artists involved. 

This project was funded by a People Award from the Wellcome Trust and we thank them for their support.

Further information about the competition: click here

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