Probably not, I know, particularly if you are Andrew Lansley I suspect. But this is good drama and good for your health. I am delighted that AMRC is going to be part of the following, exciting initiative in public engagement. Read on for the news release (apologies, I know that is a bit lazy of me) but you can find more details on Y-Touring’s work here.
Theatre pioneer’s £1m to spark national debate on advances in biomedical research – Tuesday 18 January 2011
Y Touring, an award-winning national touring theatre company, has been awarded almost £1m by the Wellcome Trust to support a five-year theatrical project on biomedical research and its implications for human health.
The Strategic Award will be used by Y Touring, now celebrating its 21st year, to develop and produce one new Theatre of Debate® project annually for five years. Each project will explore and stimulate conversation on a different facet of biomedical research and its effects on individuals and society, through the use of theatre, debate and digital media. Y Touring Theatre Company is an operation of Central YMCA, the UK’s leading activity for health charity.
Original theatrical productions will be toured in schools around the UK and be streamed live to cinemas throughout the country. The project will create a national network of schools with access to extensive educational resources; facilitate a community of students engaged in part through digital media; and encourage debate about the impact of biomedical research on society among young people and adult audiences.
Nigel Townsend, Executive Director of Y Touring, said ‘We are thrilled to have received this Strategic Award from the Wellcome Trust and look forward to undertaking this exciting project. The fast pace of scientific advances is having an increasing impact on human health. This project gives us a chance to bring together scientists, young people, artists and teachers to explore these vital issues.’
The project, costing £1.6 million in total, will start in April 2011. The first year of work will focus on pharmacogenetics, the science of ‘tailoring’ medicines to best fit with individuals’ genetic make-up’. This will be conducted in partnership with Valerie McKelvey-Martin, Head of Engagement, at the School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Ulster.
The project will cement Y Touring’s relationships with its co-applicants: Each play will be performed every day for a week during National Science and Engineering Week in the Royal Albert Hall’s Elgar Room and the five year project will be led by a Steering Committee chaired by the project’s scientific consultant, Sophie Petit-Zeman, Head of External Relations at the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC). The project is to be independently evaluated by People Science & Policy Ltd.
“For Y Touring to have been successful in winning ‘strategic’ funding of £1m over the next five years from the Wellcome Trust is testament to the strength and success of our long-standing partnership,” says Rosi Prescott, CEO, Central YMCA. “We’re looking forward with great enthusiasm to this next important phase in the development of our relationship with Wellcome and I am confident we will make ground-breaking and ambitious strides, working together to bring science to life for young people and their communities.”
Sophie Petit-Zeman, Head of External Relations at the AMRC, commented:
“Y Touring has an incredible talent for turning really tough medical subjects into gripping and accessible theatre and debate. Having worked with them on plays about mental illness, animal research, stem cell and embryo research and clinical trials, it is really exciting to be starting a five year project which will allow us to tackle still more topics that matter to the medical research sector. For our member charities, this is proving to be a fantastic way to explain the work they do and explore the debates that surround it with their public supporters and patient beneficiaries, young and old alike.”
Clare Matterson, Director of Medical Humanities and Engagement at the Wellcome Trust, said: “We hope that this Strategic Award will enable Y Touring to build on its excellent track-record of promoting public understanding of and engagement with science through drama. Over the past 21 years, the company has shown consistently the unique role that drama can play in enabling audiences to reflect on both the science and its ethical and societal implications too by portraying authentic situations within which are embedded essential ethical and moral issues for debate.”
“I am delighted that Y Touring has received this award from the Wellcome Trust. The Royal Albert Hall has worked with Y Touring over the last three years as part of its charitable remit to support both the arts & sciences. Our relationship with the Company has grown each year, and we are very pleased that we will now be able to plan a longer-term involvement,” said Alastair Tallon, Head of Learning & Participation at the Royal Albert Hall.
Joan Bakewell, Y Touring’s patron, commented:
“I am thrilled that the brilliant work done by Y Touring has gained the sustained support of the Wellcome Trust. In the present climate this is especially pleasing and a tribute to the high standards of both organisations.”