In July 2018, I posted a question asking ” How do we turn STEMtoSTEAM?” inviting people to add their names in support of this enquiry.
My quest to see the arts given equal prominence alongside science, technology, engineering and maths was driven by a combination of experiences gained throughout my career; across strategic creative roles within large organisations, consultancy work, as a trustee of a charity and as a partner at David Bent Studio.
Opening up the debate at a time when there seemed to be a vacuum felt important and with the potential to positively influence perceptions, policy and funding.
It also seemed important to encourage raising awareness of the value of creativity in its widest sense, across every sphere of life – emphasising that creativity adds value everywhere, from the way a child develops to the way a country is run anywhere in the world.
Having asked a short question two years ago, the first surprise was the breadth of genuine cross sector interest and support, including from individuals working across the arts, aerospace, education, engineering. environment, heritage, health, politics, science and beyond. 250 added their names from the very start.
Having begun with a single question, I began to research the subject to gain a deeper understanding of the situation locally, nationally and internationally, in parallel, inviting a selection of people to outline their views.
These insights and (50) statements have been shared over the past 2 years including in my Catalytic Conversation talks and posts.
I quickly learnt that I was far from the first or only person to be seeking this expansion, but that my contribution was relevant and timely. Despite many voices, including those of the pioneering Rhode Island School of Design from the 1990’s onwards, Sir Ken Robinson’s wise words & significant papers written, it felt as if the success and clarity of the STEM message had somehow eclipsed more of the debate than ideal.
7 months into my commitment, I was delighted to be invited to give my first research seminar at Cambridge University, introduced as ‘a voice from the real world’ and to be invited to my old school, Badminton, to give a lecture on STEMtoSTEAM and its potential to change the world for the better. This formed part of their Inspiring Evenings series.
In 2019, Swindon Link Founder & supporter Roger Ogle suggested that a group discussion might be useful. I agreed and hosted an evening shortly after, bringing together a group of people working in the Arts, Education, Health, Medicine, Research, Religion, Science & Technology sectors. Thanks to Roger, Chris & Lamorna Waddell, Rod Hebden, Pradeep Bhardwaj, Graham & Julie Carter, Maia Elliot, and Kris Talikowski for bringing great food and inputs.
The feedback at this experimental evening led me to decide to create a series of 12 Co Hosted STEMtoSTEAM Suppers, aimed to broaden the audience further, close to home and much further afield.
Reflecting today, half way through the series, the commitment of each Co Host at each event has been extraordinary, including Daler Rowney’s CEO, Dominique Paradis, Cranfield University’s Professor Iain Gray CBE , BCP Council Director of Economy & Regeneration Bill Cotton, Aardman Animations Co Founder David Sproxton CBE & UWE Vice Chancellor Steve West.
Each event has exceeded expectations with open and challenging discussions between our excellent guests – including Heads of Innovation, Military Officers, Fashion Designers, Artists, Scientists, Educators, Business leaders and Test pilots.
6 more evenings are scheduled ahead including with Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland QC MP, Artist Alison Vickery and Acting Arch Deacon of Bristol, Canon Michael Johnson.
The challenges of meeting up during the pandemic led me to 1) adapt 3 events to be on line , widening access 2) to add 2 new Co Hosts for 2021 to explore creativity & organic food production & creative approaches to Ethics 3) to create a ‘ written & sealed response event ‘ and 4) to create a series of 6 stimulating snack events on Facebook, curating content from a mix of invited guests.
To date, my curated events have included London based Garden designer Robert Budwig, Supper Club Chef Alan Rosenthal, Composer & Opera Singers Liz Lane & Belinda Evans, International Air Show Commentator Joe Mc Grath, Sculptor David Lomax, Educationalist Candida Hutchinson, Songwriter & Film Maker collaborators Steve Cox & Martin Parry, Writer Suzanne Askham, Co-Founder The Core, Kris Talikowski , Writer & Historian Graham Carter, BBC Antiques Roadshow Expert, Marc Allum, Artist Marilyn Trew, Songwriter Paul Lappin , Aviation professional, Former Red Arrows Manager Ruth Shackleton MSc FRGS and my sister, Marilyn Pachter – one of the wisest women that I know & a future co-author ( Wisdom of the Catfish meets the Gefilte Fish – a book of two halves. )
Further events are scheduled between August 2020 and May 2021 with thanks due to all including Dr Mike Pringle, my Co Host for the first ‘post lock down’ spacially distanced Supper on July 23rd 2020 in the grounds of the wonderful Richard Jefferies Museum.
Looking back over the past 2 years it is pleasing to reflect on new and refreshed dialogue, new relationships and opportunities that have been catalysed and to consider potential ahead and to learn about the positive development of SHAPE 2 months ago.
My objective throughout remains to encourage substantial engagement and to help expand horizons and collaborations that question the status quo, moving dialogue and action forward where needed.
In an increasingly roboticized world, the need for human creativity, humanity and positive multidisciplinary collaborations has rarely felt more important and I remain fully committed.
Creativity is everywhere and everyone’s.