1 February 2012
On 18 October, the Faculty of Arts at the University of Bristol opened its doors for InsideArts – the University’s first festival of the arts and humanities. The week was abuzz with a wide range of events — all free and all open to the public.
Running over a period of three days, the festival culminated in a lively public discussion at Bristol’s Watershed, at which members of the public and the panel debated ‘art for art’s sake?’.
“One of the highlights of InsideArts is the way in which we’re bringing the public into what we do as well as taking the University out into the city,” said Dr Bradley Stephens, chair of the InsideArts committee and lecturer in the French Department. “I think that the split that’s sometimes perceived between a university and the city in which it’s based is quite artificial. One of the great things about Bristol is the way that interactions between the University and the public are encouraged.”
“It’s these very dialogues that enable us to share our passion for the arts and also clarify why and how they matter.”
In recent months, the arts sector in the UK has been particularly hard hit by funding cuts. The higher education sector in general is facing increased scrutiny relating to questions around value for money and the increase in undergraduate student fees. There has never been a more critical need to demonstrate how the arts and humanities both matter and contribute to public life. As part of this, it is vital that the public sees how the University’s work benefits the greater good. Putting on a festival to present its work in this area helps the public to understand and connect with the arts research taking place here.
“It’s hard to say why the arts and humanities matter, they just do”, said Lucinda Critchley, PhD student in Russian Literature and head of Student Involvement for InsideArts. “They’re so fundamental; whether it’s dancing, writing, street art, poetry, drawing or playing music. They make such a difference to the quality of your life and we’d lose so much if we didn’t have a society that embraces arts engagement.”
InsideArts provided an intensive taster of the faculty's work. 24 per cent of the audience that provided feedback had never attended University events before. Along with a Twitter channel with over 200 followers and almost 2000 views of the InsideArts Facebook page, the festival was clearly extending the knowledge of the University and its work outside its usual sphere.
“What’s important about a festival like InsideArts is that it helps people to realise how the arts and humanities matter. It’s that energy and enthusiasm for the arts that we wanted to channel by putting on this festival” said Bradley. “And that’s why we’re going to do it again in 2013!”
Please contact Laura Greenwood for further information.
Further information on InsideArts can be found online at bristol.ac.uk/inside-arts. There will be another InsideArts festival in November 2013. In the meantime, InsideArts continues as the external programme of public events for the Faculty of Arts.
For enquiries about InsideArts, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Keynote lecture speaker: Professor Daniel Karlin
What’s important about a festival like InsideArts is that it helps people to realise how the arts and humanities matter. It’s that energy and enthusiasm for the arts that we wanted to channel by putting on this festival.