Xplore!, along with over 40 members of the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres (ASDC), has today joined the Science Centres For Our Future campaign, which is calling on the government to set up an Emergency Resilience Fund to support the UK’s world-class network of regional Science Centres.
Xplore! has been a successful charity for over 17 years, Due to Covid-19 the science centre closed its doors to visitors in March, cancelled community outreach and education programmes and stopped all events, cutting off every vital revenue stream for the charity.
To highlight the crucial role that UK Science Centres play in making science accessible to all, Xplore! is joining a nationwide campaign which is being supported by some of the UK’s leading science advocates including Professor Alice Roberts.
The Science Centres For Our Future campaign (#ScienceCentresForOurFuture) supports ASDC’s submission to government, asking it to urgently grant £25 million in Emergency Resilience Funding to secure the future of the whole network of UK Science Centres. Xplore! cannot apply for the Arts Council or Heritage Emergency grants and, without government support, many UK Science Centres are at risk.
At a time when science is so important and with major global challenges ahead from both Covid-19 and climate change, Science Centres provide North Wales and the North West with crucial opportunities to access science, in an approachable and engaging way, helping to inspire our next generation of scientists and engineers.
Wrexham’s Science Centre is a valuable community resource with over 80,000 visitors a year since Xplore! opened 17 years ago. Nationally, hands-on Science Centres welcome millions of people in regions outside London and contribute over £200million per year to local economies.
Xplore! is so important for North Wales. Many will have fond memories of school visits and family days out, learning new things and being inspired by interactive and hands-on experiences such as the public shows, science festivals and astronomy club. Visitors have returned and told the team at Xplore! how they have been inspired by their visit to pursue careers in science – and more will follow in their footsteps.
But, in lockdown and with no revenue streams, Science Centres face a chronic funding gap. As charities, Science Centres cannot take on large debts as, whilst the furlough has been hugely helpful, costs like utility bills, insurance, payroll, site security and rents still need to be paid.
Scot Owen, Xplore! Centre Manager:
“Since 2003 our science centre has been an integral part of the local and regional community, playing an intrinsic role in inspiring the scientists and engineers of today and tomorrow. Science centres promote inclusion and equity and break down the traditional barriers to engagement such as gender and background, helping to make contemporary science accessible to all. Losing this vital resource to the community would have a detrimental impact for generations to come.”
Dr Penny Fidler, CEO of ASDC highlights:
“As a nation and as a global society we have some major challenges ahead, especially in relation to climate and coronavirus. To solve these challenges we need an entrepreneurial and scientifically engaged society. Science Centres unlock science for people, making it accessible and interesting to millions of children and adults each year. Without support we will start to lose these popular cultural resources that offer access into science for all.”
Alice Roberts, Professor of Public Engagement in Science, University of Birmingham and ASDC Patron, adds:
“From Xplore!, the Glasgow Science Centre and the Eden Project, to the Centre for Alternative Energy and the Centre for Life in Newcastle – our Science Centres and museums are important as places where people can learn about many different branches of science, get inspired, and satisfy their own curiosity. These centres support hands-on learning for children, all the way through to lifelong learning for adults. Like many other cultural institutions, Science Centres are struggling at this time – they need our support. I hope the government can help them survive, so that they can continue their crucial work, making science accessible for everyone.”
ASDC and North Wales’s Science Centre are asking the public to support the Science Centres For Our Future campaign in two key ways:
- Share your Science Centre photos and why you love them on social media, using the #ScienceCentresForOurFuture
- Write to your local MP, Sarah Atherton, asking her to support the creation of this Emergency Fund to secure the future of Xplore! Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
With one voice championing the Science Centres, ASDC wants to let the government know how important these charitable enterprises are to our regions, and ask the government to save over 40 of these vital cultural and community resources, thousands of jobs, millions of annual visits and billions of individual discoveries.