Festival of Ideas logo on orange background Festival of Ideas logo on orange background mobile

Festival stage

A perfect blend of arts, culture and discussion

Joanna C Headshot
Joanna Czutkowna

In crisis there is always opportunity, understanding how to pivot into that opportunity is a key skill. Coronavirus has challenged us to think differently and has been the biggest catalyst for change many industries have ever experienced. Joanna Czutkowna discusses why right now is one of the best times in history to bring about a more sustainable future. It’s time to rewrite the rule book.

Vean Torto Headshot
Vean Ima

Vean recites her Ally Anthem, written in response to George Floyd’s death alongside poetry for black women and white women allies, demonstrating poetry as both a tool for activism and a tool for peace.

Daniel Grey
Daniel Grey

Historian and researcher Daniel Grey looks at how India has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and what a future India might look like.

Owen Davies
Owen Davies

Owen Davies, a Professor of Social History in the School of Humanities at the University of Hertfordshire, explores the epidemics of past and present through a unique lens of fear and folklore.

Finborough Theatre Headshot
Finborough Theatre

Dr Andrew Maunder led the School of Humanities in a collaboration with London’s award-winning Finborough Theatre in Spring 2019 to revive the powerful 1913 play, Jane Clegg, by Ulster dramatist St John Ervine. Directed by Olivier award-winning director David Gilmore, this is the first professional production of the play for 75 years.

Jane Glynn
Jane Glynn

Jane Glynn’s giant book was made to celebrate and share ideas from participatory art projects for New Geographies. Originally planned as a public facing interactive tool, the book has evolved to be an online launch pad for further inspiration and questions linked to people’s relationships with their own local places.

Claire Thompson Pod
Claire Thompson

Claire Thompson, Research Fellow at the University of Hertfordshire discusses her study into how COVID-19 and the lockdown is changing the way people eat and shop for food in the East of England.

Persued by bear
Pursued by a Bear

Pursued by a Bear presents the first in a new series of films written by Anna Reynolds, directed by Rosamunde Hutt. In World War 2, an aviator flies Spitfires from the de Havilland factory in Hatfield to wherever the RAF needs them. Her life takes flight against headwinds of self-doubt and male incomprehension.

Bim Afolami Pod
Bim Afolami MP

COVID-19 has impacted so many aspects of life. However, the response of local communities to support each other has been so encouraging and proffers so much hope for the future. Bim Afolami’s conversation with Julie Newlan, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University, explores the future of the community and how the upward trajectory can best be supported when life becomes more normal.

image of frances and john sorrell
John and Frances Sorrell

Frances and John Sorrell talk about their creativity work over the years with young people, that lead to the creation of the Sorrell Foundation and the Saturday Club.

Damian Ward
Professor Damian Ward

Dean of Hertfordshire Business School, Professor Damian Ward shares his thoughts on the shape of our economy post the current COVID-19 pandemic.

image of grea wall
Grae J. Wall

Grae performs three of his poems around the theme of ‘A New Normal’

Joane McDowell book cover
Joanne McDowell

Principal Lecturer Dr Joanne McDowell shares her thoughts on the need to degender jobs, as a response to the pandemic.

Ellie Whitaker
El Whitaker

When things may seem a bit bleak, music makes us all think. The songs featured are to make you think about people you may be missing but knowing you'll see them soon. We may be missing people, but once lockdown is over, we will be closer for it. Tune in for some folk/jazz sounds to brighten any afternoon.

Katrina Navickas
Katrina Navickas

Reader of History at the University of Hertfordshire, Katrina Navickas looks back at the history of pandemics through the ages.

BRaun Pavillion collage
Digital Braun

Following Braun’s formulation of a new design program in the mid 1950’s, Braun products have been showcased at more exhibitions than any other comparable company. Throughout this period, the SK 4 Phonosuper – or better known as the Snow White’s Coffin – is regarded as the pinnacle of cool modernist Braun design. This digital exhibition delves deep into the ideology and myth behind the SK 4 Phonosuper.

Richard Wiseman
Professor Richard Wiseman

Can You Save the World? Professor Richard Wiseman introduces his new online video game that teaches the importance of social distancing and the vital part it plays in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Dr Helen McCarthy Pod
Dr Helen McCarthy

Dr Helen McCarthy, Reader in Modern and Contemporary History shares her thoughts on working Mothers through history.

Bernadine Evaristo
Bernardine Evaristo

Booker Prize-winning author Bernardine Evaristo reads from her novel, which follows the inter-connecting lives of twelve, primarily black British women aged 19 to 93 who are of various sexualities, cultural backgrounds, classes and occupations.

Josh Gaddes
Josh Gaddes

Afari's contribution is full of personal songs that he wrote at different times throughout university reflecting his challenges, highs and lows and the different seasons of life. It has a combination of chilled vibes, sad vibes, as well as a more energetic track. His songs offer powerful lyrics with messages that others may relate with and find hope from during difficult times.

Phil Porter
Phil Porter

Dr Phil Porter, an experienced glacier scientist, discusses the impact the pandemic has had on climate change and how this could shape the future of our environment.

Mohammed Ilyas Image
Mohammed Ilyas

Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Hertfordshire, Mohammed Ilyas shares his thoughts on how to be an ally.

Harry Woodgate
Harry Woodgate

Harry Woodgate has been commissioned to document and contribute to the Festival of Ideas through quirky illustrations, across the platforms of live drawing and social media.

Helen Lederer
Helen Lederer

Legendary comedian, actress and writer Helen Lederer shares her views on comedy women in print.

Yasmin Alibhai Brown
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

Journalist and author, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown shares her thoughts on migrants and minorities in the UK, and the necessity for politicians to show leadership to change the rhetoric of hate.

Quintin McKellar
Professor Quintin McKellar CBE

Professor Quintin McKellar, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire looks at how the food we eat may change in the future.

Mike Newell and Howard Berry
Mike Newell and Howard Berry

In this interview with Howard Berry, Mike Newell discusses the need for film and television during the lockdown and examines the future impacts on film and television production in a world of social distancing. We examine the format of the monologue and how sustainable it is. Looking into the opportunities for new content, the discussion also suggests new opportunities for new writers and directors, in a world where blockbuster films may be impossible to make.

Dawid Konotey-Ahulu
Dawid Konotey-Ahulu

Barrister Dawid, a Governor of the University of Hertfordshire shares his thoughts on how we can take action to put an end to racism.

David Jeffreys
Dr  David Jefferys

Dr David Jefferys is Senior Vice President of Eisai, a leading global research and development-based pharmaceutical company headquartered in Japan. Dr David talks about how the global pharmaceutical industry has been impacted by the pandemic, how it has responded, and how it will take forward the lessons learnt for the future.

Catherine and Shaun
Catherine Scorey Jobling and Shaun Borstrock

The global shutdown has resulted in the consumer rethinking their shopping habits, wants and needs. There is however still the need to sell, and to buy. Catherine Scorey Jobling, Chief Operating Office at All Saints discusses the future of fashion and retail in conversation with Dr Shaun Borstrock.

Abbie Gathard
Abbie Gathard

Singer-songwriter and guitarist Abbie Gathard will perform a 15-minute set including:

  • Black Horse and the Cherry Tree by KT Tunstall
  • Closest Thing to Crazy by Katie Melua
  • Gentle on my Mind by Glen Campbell
  • Mr Why by Abbie Gathard

Lord Salisbury
Lord Salisbury

The Most Hon Marquess of Salisbury KG KCVO PC DL, Chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire, discusses the work of the Constitution Reform Group and their proposals for the future of the United Kingdom with Professor Quintin McKellar CBE, Vice-Chancellor of the University.

Alistair Sarah Pod
Alistair Spalding and Sarah Crompton

Broadcaster and writer Sarah Crompton interviews Sadler’s Wells Alistair Spalding on how the dance theatre is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Katherine McMahon
Katharine McMahon

'The Rose of Sebastopol’ follows the adventures of Rosa Barr, who is inspired to follow Nightingale to the Crimea, and subsequently disappears. In three short extracts, Katharine McMahon introduces the reader to Rosa’s timid cousin, Mariella, as she sets off to the battlefields in reluctant pursuit.

chapman gallery pod
Chapman Gallery Tour

Chapman Gallery is one of the main gallery spaces dedicated to showcasing the University’s Art Collection. The architecture bears witness to the institution's incredible evolution – for over sixty years this was the gateway into Hatfield Technical College, then Hatfield Polytechnic and now the University of Hertfordshire.

art collection pod
Art Collection Showcase

The University of Hertfordshire Art Collection comprises of around 500 artworks dispersed across the College Lane and de Havilland campuses and the Fielder centre. UH Arts is delighted to present these four digital showcases of the Collection; Paintings, Prints & Photography, Textile & Mixed Media works and Sculpture & 3D works.

plastic matter pod
Plastic Matter Exhibition

UH Arts are pleased to bring you a digital walk-through of the Plastic Matter Exhibition, in this unique group exhibition, eight artists explore plastic's potential to become something more treasured, look at how hastily we consume and dispose of it, its environmental impact and its future role in society.

Featuring work by Seyi Adelekun, Maria Arceo, Camilla Brendon, Hilary Jack, David Kefford, Steve McPherson, Jill Townsley and Daniel Webb

Theresa Lola
Theresa Lola

Award-winning poet Theresa Lola reads some pieces that relate to coping with today’s anxieties

Matthew Weait
Professor Matthew Weait

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Matthew Weait reads one of his short stories, the days he had seen, which was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize in 2009.

Peter Richardson
Peter Richardson

Peter Richardson discusses a unique collaboration between some of the UK’s top cancer researchers, clinicians and filmmakers. Written and directed by Richardson, the film, set in a time where cancer can be cured in days, tells the story of a mother and her six-year old daughter as they come to terms with a life-changing diagnosis.

Wayne-Holloway Smith
Wayne Holloway-Smith

Each of Wayne Holloway-Smith's poems disrupt or question our understanding of what it is to be working class and a man, through atypical, surreal and uncomfortable subject matter. Mr Punch’s antics finally get what they deserve, a cavalcade of Wayne’s jostle for attention. A baby falls from a building and hits the same person numerous times and in his National Poetry Competition winning poem, a mother reignites her life through the practice of boxing.

Please note this reading contains expletives.

Shaun Borstrock and Mark Bloomfield
Dr Shaun Borstrock and Mark Bloomfield

A fashion sci-fi short – yes, these exist! Showcasing the work of Modeclix, the 3D printed textile invented by Dr Shaun Borstrock and Visiting Professor Mark Bloomfield. Filmed in South Africa and directed by Professor Peter Richardson, the short is based on the true story of scientist Louis Slotin and his experiments with plutonium cores.

maria-meyer pod
Hertfordshire Open 2020 Exhibition

UH Arts and St Albans Museum + Gallery are delighted to launch the first Hertfordshire Open. This spectacular showcase introduces artworks by 50 artists connected to Hertfordshire who were selected from nearly 200 submissions. We are sharing works created by established and emerging artists, as well as first-time exhibitors. The wealth of visual art mediums is celebrated across painting, drawing, sculpture, prints, textiles, film, photography and found objects.

Graha Sadd and Tony Hallett
Graham Sadd and Tony Hallett

Tony Hallett interviews Graham Sadd on his thoughts around a sustainable and connected future, looking at how the world is changing since the pandemic. Life will be very different for us all, with mobile workforces becoming the norm and sustainability gaining ever more prominence on the global agenda.

Marie Le Conte
Marie Le Conte

Political journalist and speaker, Marie Le Conte, discusses the impact social distancing and new technology has had on politics within the UK.

Lorna Gibb
Lorna Gibb

The readings for the Festival of Ideas come from Childless Voices and illustrate three different experiences of global childlessness, framed within the context of how the pain and difficulty of the involuntary childless experience may be overlooked and forgotten during a pandemic.

Ray Harris
Dr Ray Harris

Florence Nightingale is rightly famous for her huge impact on nursing, however, it is less well known that she used data and data displays to enlighten people about health-related problems. Dr Harris discusses some of the techniques that she used to make a difference then, and how data visualisations are key to understanding, and therefore mitigating, the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jonathan Porritt
Jonathon Porritt

Jonathon Porritt will be exploring what our post-pandemic future could look like from a sustainability perspective, focusing particularly on the Climate Emergency and creating a just transition to a low-carbon world.

Simeon Nelson
Professor Simeon Nelson

Simeon Nelson is an interdisciplinary sculptor. He is focusing on a method of art making and teaching, that participates in the flow of the life of the world. It prioritises the interrelationship of part and whole, figure and ground, the one and the many. It sharpens our attention to what is hiding in plain sight, our creation of the world and the world’s creation of us.

sculpture walk pod
Guided Sculpture Walk

The University of Hertfordshire Art Collection features over 500 artworks displayed across its campuses. Hosted by UH Arts, the guided sculpture walk introduces 13 outdoor sculptures from the University’s College Lane campus.

Sam Jury
Sam Jury

To Be Here is a short film that examines the prolonged displacement of Sahrawis refugees living in camps in the desert region of Algeria since the 1975 war with Morocco. The focus is the often over-looked female experience of war and displacement, alongside the frustration of living without a clear path toward self-determination.

Samantha Benham-Hermetz Pod
Samantha Benham-Hermetz

The COVID-19 global pandemic has exposed how vulnerable we are in the face of diseases with no treatments that can prevent, slow down or cure. Dementia is one such condition. Samantha Benham-Hermetz, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Alzheimer’s Research UK considers what other lessons COVID-19 can teach us in the search for new treatments for dementia.

Stuart Whipps
Stuart Whipps

Stuart Whipps is an artist based in Birmingham. 'Necessary Amendments: Homes for the people' is a new film that was made between 2018 and 2020 in three locations: The Gibberd Garden in Harlow, Brooke House in Basildon, and The Cockaigne houses at The Ryde in Hatfield. All are post-war British ‘new towns’.

Quintin & Sol Rogers
Professor Quintin McKellar CBE and Sol Rogers

Sol Rogers and Professor Quintin McKellar, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire discuss the inception of the Festival of Ideas Reimagined

Maria Arceo
Maria Arceo

Artist Maria Arceo will share her innate affinity to water and intrinsic interest in archaeology and geology. Over the last twenty years of her career, she has undertaken a comprehensive study on the diverse ways in which human footprints manifest themselves within the environment in general, but more specifically into aquatic habitats. This search has taken her on a unique journey of exploration dealing with an unusual range of materials; from her earlier works with salt to her newly found obsession with the waterborne plastic debris of the past ten years.

Lord David Willetts
Lord David Willetts

Lord David Willetts, Chair of the Resolution Foundation, wrote The Pinch in 2010, arguing that the economic prospects for young people were not nearly as good as for earlier generations. Updated last year, he discusses the ideas from his book with Professor Quintin McKellar, and what this might tell us about the economic prospects for young people today.

Alana Jelinek
Alana Jelinek

Dr Alana Jelinek draws on her teaching of BA Fine Art and her research as an artist into the role and value of art in society to discuss creativity and metaphor, drawing out themes from her forthcoming publication, 'Between Discipline and a Hard Place: the Role of Contemporary Art' (Bloomsbury 2020).

Create It Share It Pod
Create it, Share it!

To help keep everyone busy and creative at this difficult time so we’ve teamed up with artists to give you some fun, creative activities you can enjoy doing at home. Whether you’re off school, caring for others, working from home or looking for something to do online as a group, we hope our activities get that creativity flowing!

Anna Ray
Anna Ray

Award-winning artist Anna Ray invites us into her studio in Hertfordshire, to share the textile pieces she is currently working on and to describe the commissions she has undertaken recently.

Daisy Cooper
Daisy Cooper MP

Daisy explores the nature of work and how it might change in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Barbara Brownie and Nicola de Main
Barbara Brownie and Nicola de Main

What might you wear on a trip to Space? De Main and Brownie will discuss some of the concerns that designers will need to consider when creating garments for micro-gravity, and the need to revisit and rethink fashion and design practices that have been taken for granted in Earth's gravity.

Sarah Fraser - Pod
Sarah Fraser

Sarah Fraser, Head of the Willmott Dixon Foundation, discusses how the foundation is enhancing the life chances of young people.

Harriet Riddell
Harriet Riddell

Harriet Riddell talks about her unique artistic practice using a sewing machine and a bicycle. She recalls the journeys it has taken her on and the people she has met along the way. The artist also explains how she has responded to making art during the pandemic.

Hannah Higham
Hannah Higham

Made for a school in Hertfordshire in 1948-49, Henry Moore’s Family Group was a symbol of humanity, regeneration and hope in the years following the devastation of the Second World War.  Dr Hannah Higham reflects on the origins of the sculpture, Moore’s own circumstances, and what his work during this ‘transitional age’ might teach us as we face the uncertain times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.