ACT Heritage Library Manuscript Collection

HMSS 0265 Australian Science Festival Records

Scope and Content Notes

Call Number

HMSS 0265

Collection Australian Science Festival Records

Date Range

1991-2010

Quantity

3.38m (13 manuscript boxes and 1 oversized non standard container)

Access Conditions

open

Copying conditions

with attribution

Related Collections

-

The Australian Science Festival has been seminal in the history and development of science communication in Australia. It began as part of the Canberra Festival in 1991.  The festival ran for 19 years in Canberra. The last festival was presented in 2010 and the not-for-profit organisation that ran it, ASF Limited, closed its doors in June 2011.

It inspired people of all ages and generated great awareness. More than 80 per cent of Canberrans were consistently aware of the festival, with a peak of 94 per cent (Newspoll), a phenomenal awareness figure. The festival generated media awareness worth about a million dollars each year, according to Media Monitors.

The inspiration for the festival came from two ANU researchers, Dr Arno Mullbacher and Dr Paul Waring, who were inspired by the Edinburgh International Science Festival on a visit to the Scottish capital in 1988.

The first science festival ran as part of the Canberra Festival, and had a budget of $80,000. Well-known entrepreneur Mary-Anne Waldren took over the festival in the second year of its history and quickly realised the festival’s growth was limited. She separated it from the Canberra Festival two years later. Its foundation sponsor, ACTEW, and its then head, Mike Sergent, were great festival champions. It was Mike Sergent who suggested board members pay up to $10,000 to belong, which they did. The next head of ACTEW, Paul Perkins, was also a staunch festival champion for many years. Science-festival board member and founder of CEA Technologies, David Gaul, conceived of the idea of a solar and advanced-technology boat race, which ran on Lake Burley Griffin for five years, attracted contestants from around Australia and the world and helped develop Australia’s solar ferry industry. The overall winners of the first solar boat race, Solar Sailor, used their patent prize to develop solar ferries for the Green Sydney Olympics in 2000, for instance.

About 80 per cent of the festival’s budget for the next four years came from sponsorship or income it generated from program advertising and exhibition-stand sales. ACT Government funding quickly caught up, and the festival flourished for the next decade or so before funding began to decline in real terms.

The festival, at its peak, attracted about 150,000  visitors to more than 100 events throughout Canberra and had an annual cash and sponsorship budget of more than a million dollars. A concentration of events happened each year at ActewAGL’s Amazing World of Science at the National Convention Centre in Civic, and included workshops, talks, science shows, roving performers and extensive a central exhibition.

Entrerpreneurial know-how and a tendency to take calculated risks was at the heart of the festival’s growth and success. The festival brought the television show, Good News Week, to Canberra five years in a row, for instance at the height of its ratings and underwrote the producers of Good News Week to do so.

Other key components to the festival success were timing and location. The festival was launched at the birth of a new industry, science communication, and Canberra was training some of the best of them. The Australian National University was the first place in the world to train post-graduate science communicators. Many of them worked at the Australian Science Festival, which employed more staff members as each annual festival drew closer.

The festival has employed about 200 staff members during its 19 years and hosted thousands more performers. It has launched and cemented many science-communication careers, including Triple J’s Adam Spencer, who commented after his talk on mathematics at an early festival spilled over into the foyer that the experience made him realise how potent he was to audiences.

The festival forged a relationship with the national broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), and presented more than 70 outside broadcasts on topics ranging from the science of sexuality and siblings to the nature of fear and dying with dignity. The festival worked with most Radio National presenters and producers that spanned that era.

The Australian Science Festival was a pioneer in science communication in this country and shared its knowledge freely nationally and internationally.  The Australian National Science Week, the Korean Science Festival, The Dunedan Science Festival and many science agencies in China benefited from the advice given by the ASF Limtied.  The Australian National Science week were quoted in saying they saved two years of work by having Mary-Anne Waldren help them with strategy.

The Australian Science Festival’s Mary-Anne Waldren joined forces with the ABC to kick-start national science week in 1997. Mary-Anne Waldren and the ABC’s Alison Leigh went to see the then Federal Minister Peter McGauran about the idea, was asked to include the National Science Teachers Association into the partnership and National Science Week was born. The ASF Limited ran National Science Week for the next eight years until the Department of Edcuation, Science and Training took it over in 1995.

The ASF Limited also founded ICAN, Canberra’s festival of ideas and innovation, and ran it from 2000 until 2006.  This festival about entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation enjoyed enormous recognition from the business community and attracted world innovators entrepreneurs such as James Dyson from Dyson Design and Damini Kumar, Australian icons such as Julian Tertini from Freedom Furniture and Real Estate guru John McGrath, urban planner Charles Landry and creativity specialists such as Kate Oakley and Edward DeBono.

Compiled by the Australian Science Festival’s media adviser of 15 years, Megan Bird, and ASF Executive Director for 18 years, Mary-Anne Waldren.  Contact Mary-Anne at Maryanne@mawaction.com.au for more information.

Box Lists

Working Files (1997-2006)

CD-ROMs containing the backups and working files of the Australian Science Festival.  Material includes presentations, publicity infomraiton, correspondence, accounting, databases, reports and bookings.  We have reproduced the identifying information found on the cds.

Box No. Location Description Quantity Date Range
1

Wallet 1

Sasol Scifest

1 disc

2004

1

Wallet 1

Communication Wheel Powerpoint

1 disc

2003

1

Wallet 1

Landry Slid

1 disc

2004

1

Wallet 1

Unidentified

1 disc no date
1

Wallet 1

Educational Guide to National Capital Attractions (commercially produced)

1 disc no date
1

Wallet 1

Launch presentation

1 disc

30/07/2002

1

Wallet 1

Liz Ireland presentation

1 disc no date
1

Wallet 1

Mary Ann Waldren’s Presentation to 3rd Science Centre World Congress

1 disc

13/12/2002

1

Wallet 1

Investigator Science @ Work (commercially produced)

1 disc no date
1

Wallet 1

Knowledge Board Presentation. Science City 1 disc

04/06/2002

1

Wallet 1

Mary Ann Waldren’s speech to ASC Conference

1 disc

24/9/2001

1

Wallet 1

SciFiles – Topical Australian Science for mainstream radio play (commercially produced audio by CSIRO and Pegasus Media)

1 disc

Oct 2002

1

Binder

Australian Science Festival Data

1 disc

1997

1

Binder

Australian Science Festival Data

1 disc

1998

1

Binder

Australian Science Festival Data

1 disc

1999

1

Binder

Australian Science Festival Data

1 disc

2000

1

Binder

Archive of boat race emails

1 disc

20/12/2001

1

Binder

Boat Race 2000 and 2001

1 disc

2000-2001

1

Binder

Boat Race

1 disc

2002

1

Binder

Boat Race

1 disc

1997, 1998, 1999

1

Binder

Australian Science Festival Data

1 disc

2001

1

Binder

PB3400HD Someone’s hard drive contents with old applications

1 disc

30/01/1997

1

Binder

Archive files databases

1 disc

1998-2001

1

Binder

Archive files and old applications 1 disc

07/06/2002

1

Binder

Australian Science Festival Angie Carter

1 disc no date
1

Binder

The Science of Underwear DEST Report and files

1 disc

Oct 2006

1

Binder

ICAN

1 disc 2002
1

Binder

Survey Report by Des Nichols ANU

1 disc 2002
1

Binder

Festival ‘05 ANU statistics

1 disc 2005
1

Binder

ASF final report

1 disc 2004
1

Binder

Australian Science Festival

1 disc 2002
1

Wallet 2

Australian Science Festival

2 disc 2003
1

Wallet 2

National Science Week 2004 as of December 1 disc

2004

1

Wallet 2

National Science Week including ASF Limited files 1998-2004; National Science Week 2002, 2005; 2004 tender and interim documents, ACT Committee Files 2001-2005

1 disc

1998-2005

1

Wallet 2

ICAN data files

1 disc

2003-2004

1

Wallet 2

Australian Science Festival Tourism Award Submissions

1 disc

2003

1

Wallet 2

National Science Week

1 disc

2002-2003

1

Wallet 2

Australian Science Festival evaluation report

1 disc

2003

1

Wallet 2

Australian Science Festival Tourism Award Submission

1 disc no date
1

Wallet 2

Australian Science Festival at National Science Week National Meeting Nov 2006

1 disc

2006

1

Wallet 2

Backup

1 disc no date
1

Wallet 2

Tender documents (work in progress)

1 disc no date
1

Wallet 2

Life Matters.  Is Australia Risk Averse?  National Convention Centre audio 55 minutes for Australian Science Festival

1 disc

03/05/2001

1

Wallet 3

Bookings 2004

1 disc

2004

1

Wallet 3

Bookings 17/08/2004

1 disc

17/08/2004

1

Wallet 3

Databases of schools and mailing lists 2002-2003; S&E Challenge 2004; ICAN 2003

1 disc

2002-2004

1

Wallet 3

National Science Week old databases

1 disc no date
1

Wallet 3

National Science Week old databases

1 disc no date
1

Wallet 3

S&E database Access 2004

1 disc 2004
1

Wallet 3

National Science Week databases 1 disc 2003
1

Wallet 3

Bookings database

1 disc 2001
1

Wallet 3

Bookings database

1 disc 2005
1

Wallet 3

Photographs

15 discs

2001-2005

1

Wallet 4

Photographs

24 discs

2001-2005

1

Wallet 5

Photographs

15 discs

2001-2005

Australian Science Festival Promotional Material (1993-2004)

Annual files containing copies of programs, flyers, newspaper inserts and other promotional materials

Box No. Description Quantity Date Range
2

Annual files

11 files

1993-2003

3

Annual files

1 files; 1 vol 2004

Annual Reports

Box No. Description Quantity Date Range
3 1996; 1999-2003; 2003/4-2006/07; 2008 annual reports 11 Volumes

1996-2008

Photographic Records (1994 - )

Mostly colour photographic prints, some stored in photograph albums, some store in wallets supplied by developer.  Content of Australian Science Week events and associated activities.  There are some slides, contact sheets and negatives also in this series

Box No. Description Quantity Date Range
4

Photographs

3 vols

1994-1996

5

Photographs

3 vols

1996-1997

6

Photographs

3 vols

1997

7

Photographs (includingFirst APEC Youth Science Festival, Korea in 1999)

5 vols; 1 wallet

1997-1999

8

Photographs (including Second APEC Youth Science Festival, Singapore, 2000; Australian Science Festival 1998-2002 and ArtSci 2002 and undated and unidentified prints, slides and negatives0)

14 wallets

1998-2002

9

Photographs (undated and unidentified prints in an album)

1 vol

no date
9

Proof sheets and negatives of photographs of Australian Science Festival events

5 wallets

1998-2000

10

Proof sheets and negatives of photographs of Australian Science Festival events 2000-2001 and iCAN 2002

2 wallets

no date
10

Proof sheets and negatives of photographs of Australian Science Festival events

2 wallets

1996-1997

Miscellaneous

Box No. Description Quantity Date Range
10 Boat Races administrative papers concerning the Advanced Technology Boat Races including newsletters, information packs, press releases and participation 2 wallets

1996-1997

10 Submissions (Submission to 1993 ACT Tourism Awards) 1 vol 1993
10 Business Plan 1996-1998 1 vol 1995
11 Advisory Council Minutes 1 vol 1995-2002
11 Medallion awarded by ASF to Margaret 1 item 2000
12 Scrapbook newscuttings concerning ASF and iCAN 1 vol 1995-2006
13 and 14 Posters ASF Official posters
14 Awards and Certificates  3 items