The Science Festival Accelerator launched in 2018 with the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and completed its third iteration in 2022. The Accelerator supports new science festival initiatives in communities with relatively small resource bases, where it’s difficult to generate the momentum needed to launch and sustain a new festival. We do this by selecting existing festivals to serve as mentors to a cohort of emerging festivals, and providing opportunities for networking, professional development, and matching sponsorship funds.
We measure the Accelerator’s success by the degree to which each newly launched science festival serves new populations, rallies new collaborators, elevates new leaders, and provides experimental test cases that the broader science festival community can learn from and apply.
The first two iterations of the Accelerator were two-year programs that saw the launch of 21 new festivals across the country. In 2018, our third Accelerator expanded to a three-year program, which let us spend time specifically prioritizing issues of diversity and inclusion in public science organizations, programs, and audiences. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted that timeline, but presented unanticipated opportunities to have difficult and productive conversations about equity, access, racism, inclusion, and meaningful community engagement within the Accelerator cohort and beyond.
The third iteration of the Science Festival Accelerator introduced a specific focus on issues of diversity and inclusion. The Accelerator supports new science festivals in communities with a relatively small resource base by pairing startup festivals with established lead festivals as mentors. Four existing festivals, including one Accelerator alumnus, were named as leads and twelve startup festivals joined as mentors. Due to COVID restrictions, two startup festivals decided to postpone indefinitely. Participating festivals received matching sponsorship funding, professional development resources, and support in creating a diversity plan and methods for evaluation. Public festivals launched in 2020, 2021, and 2022.
The Science Festival Accelerator supports new science festivals in communities with a relatively small resource base. In its second iteration, three existing festivals were named as leads and nine start-up festivals were selected from a competitive application process. Participating festivals received matching sponsorship funding and professional development resources, culminating in the International Public Science Events Conference in public festivals launched in 2017 and 2018.
The Science Festival Accelerator supports new science festivals in communities with a relatively small resource base. In its inaugural iteration, four existing festivals were named as leads and twelve start-up festivals were selected from a competitive application process. Participating festivals received matching sponsorship funding and professional development resources, and public festivals launched in 20XX and 20XX.