Festival scoping study

We have undertaken a small study of the Festival of Social Science from 2006 to 2011 to review the successes and the benefits over time, as well as to develop learning points for future events. This includes a review of the Festival annual evaluation reports and media coverage data (2006-2010); a questionnaire survey of attendees and organisers (2008-2010), and further interviews with 14 organisers and ESRC Festival staff.

The report highlights that:

  • Over the last five years, the Festival of Social Science has reached over 43,000 people across the UK
  • 48 per cent of the audience has been new to the ESRC and its work
  • Festival attendance has increased from 3,800 in 2006 to 18,000 in 2011 (over 470 per cent)
  • The Festival of Social Science is seen as prestigious, credible, and well-respected
  • The Festival has become more efficient and streamlined, with a 27 per cent decrease in budget but an increase in event numbers
  • The ESRC Festival has a very strong brand which enables academics to attract internal support from their organisations
  • Sixty per cent of Festival events now target a general audience and young people, and 40 per cent target those with prior knowledge of the subject or professionals
  • Ninety-five per cent of attendees would attend the Festival again
  • Events associated with the Festival are becoming more unique and innovative in capturing the attention of the attendees
  • Ninety-seven per cent of attendees agree that the Festival of Social Science should continue in future years
  • The Festival provides opportunities for attendees to hear about contemporary areas of research and to have their own interest in social science reignited
  • Many attendees (85 per cent over 2006-2010) intend to follow up events at the Festival with actions
  • In four out of the last five years, organisers have recorded 100 per cent levels of satisfaction with the events they are organising
  • Almost 70 per cent of organisers said that they would have been unlikely to carry out the event had the Festival not existed.