The Observatory Science Centre together with over 40 members of the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres (ASDC), has 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.
The Observatory Science Centre has been a successful self-sustaining charity for over 24 years with little or no government funding. Due to Covid-19 The Observatory 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, The Observatory Science Centre 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.
At a time when science is so important and with major global challenges ahead from both Covid-19 and climate change, Science Centres provide our regional cities and towns with crucial opportunities to access science, in an approachable and engaging way, helping to inspire our next generation of scientists and engineers.
The Observatory Science Centre is a valuable community resource. In 2019 nearly 70,000 visitors were welcomed through the doors; an increase of about 22% over the last 10 years. A further 20,000 were engaged through our Outreach programme. This is testament to how valuable the OSC is to informal learning, public engagement and tourism in the South East. Nationally, hands-on Science Centres like the Observatory Science Centre welcome over 13 million people in regions outside London and contribute over £200million per year to local
The Observatory Science Centre is extremely important for the whole of the Sussex, Kent Surrey and wider communities. 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 hands on exhibits, outside Discovery Park and Water Play, Telescope Tours and science shows. Visitors have returned and told the team at The Observatory Science Centre how they have been inspired by their visit to pursue careers in science – and more will follow in their footsteps.
In lockdown, revenue streams have vanished and the charity faces a chronic funding gap. While furlough has been hugely helpful, costs like utility bills, insurance, payroll and rent still needs to be paid.
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 the Observatory Science Centre, 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.”
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.