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Arts & Culture

Being Human Festival 2019

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In Spring 2019, the Arts & Humanities Research Institute, in collaboration with Queen Mary University of London, was successfully awarded London hub status for the Being Human Festival, the UK’s only national festival of the humanities.

The Festival’s overarching theme for 2019 was Discoveries & Secrets, with the hub series theme This Time It’s Personal uncovering the personal side of the issues shaping our world today.


During the festival, King's academics shared their research with a number of different audiences via five creative engagement activities that were held chiefly in community venues across the city. Events showcased the interdisciplinary and socially engaged research carried out across the AHRI and beyond.

The five hub activities were:

  • Flying Circus Airlines: A Little Show About Immigration Controls 
  • (Beat)Making in the North African Cool! 
  • Discovering Home: A Dance and Philosophy Workshop
  • The Arts of Storytelling: Weaving Tales Between East and West
  • Lost and Found Words

For more information about these activities click here

Alongside this, Queen Mary University of London hosted an additional six events. You can find the complete hub programme on the Being Human website.


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The evaluations from the festival produced two clear findings.

We reached new publics, many of whom had never engaged with university research before:

  • 59% of respondents were from black and minority ethnic communities
  • 57% fell into the younger demographic range of 20 to 44-year olds
  • Activities took place in community venues such as church halls and community centres and through tapping into local networks we were able to engage more diverse publics.
  • 44% of respondents had never attended activities about university research before meaning we were not ‘preaching to the converted’.

Attendees valued the interactive nature of our activities:

  • Activities offered enabled interactivity, from beat-making to dance to weaving.
  • The activities enabled people to engage more with subject matter and to recognise the relevance of research to their day-to-day lives.
  • 92% of attendees felt that they were able to share their views and lived experiences about the topic in hand
  • 90% of people felt encouraged to learn more about the subjects presented
  • 97% of events were rated either good or excellent

 Read more about the Festival evaluation here.



The following short video was made to showcase the 2019 festival and features some of the researchers involved who share why they took part and the benefits that involvement brought to them and their research. 

Project status: Completed

Principal Investigator

Project websites


Funding Body: Being Human Festival

Amount: £4000

Period: May 2019 - November 2019

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