Public Engagement Fund: people we've funded

This scheme supports great ideas for engaging the public in conversations about health-related science and research.

It launched in 2017 and replaced a number of our previous public engagement schemes. 

This list includes current and past grantholders.


Camden People's Theatre            

Fog Everywhere


Fog Everywhere is a new theatre production looking at the impact of air pollution in the capital, explored through a playful folk history of the London fog. It is a collaboration between Camden People’s Theatre (CPT), King’s College London’s Lung Biology Group and a group of young people based in Camden – where residents are in the top 13 per cent of the most deprived UK communities in terms of living environment. It was developed through a programme of school workshops and it will headline a two-week festival exploring air pollution and practical ways to contribute to its reduction.

With almost 10,000 people killed annually by air pollution in London, and with the city’s first top-level toxic air warning issued in January 2017, the time is ripe for Fog Everywhere. The project draws on CPT’s experience of presenting theatre festivals connected with urgent political issues, such as Whose London Is It Anyway?, a festival exploring regeneration and the housing crisis, that was attended by more than 2,500 people in January 2016.

The project will make the science behind air pollution more widely understood by translating it to human stories that will help audiences reduce their environmental impact, protect their health and participate in change.

Echo Presents              

Fertility Fest


Fertility Fest is the first arts festival dedicated to the science of making babies. After a pilot in 2016, we want to deliver two more festivals creating a high profile platform of inspirational and provocative performances, exhibitions, discussion and debate related to fertility, infertility and assisted reproduction.

The festivals will involve over 100 artists and fertility experts and will explore a wide spectrum of issues including the impact of conceiving (or not) using an imperfect science, our responsibilities to the children born as a result, and how far we should go in pursuit of parenthood as the science develops.

The festival is aimed at the wider public but key audiences include patients, fertility professionals and young people who urgently need better fertility education.

By 2020 we hope to have created a high profile national discourse so that patients and the public have the opportunity to explore, debate and shape fertility science. We aim to improve support and solidarity for patients of assisted conception so they feel less isolated, and build greater understanding of the emotional and ethical issues related to fertility treatment in order to improve patient care and outcomes.

Edinburgh International Book Festival           

Taking the Air              


The Edinburgh International Book Festival in conjunction with Durham University and the British Lung Foundation will examine breath and breathlessness in the context of fiction, poetry and music and demonstrate how this relates to society’s current attitudes towards people who have breathlessness.

Our project, Taking the Air, will comprise a programme of events as part of our 2017 and 2018 festivals with authors such as Janice Galloway, Imtiaz Dharker and James Kelman, that will aim to destigmatise and explore how our understanding of conditions causing breathlessness has evolved through fiction. It will also involve a research project exploring how writers seek inspiration by taking a breath, a community engagement project centring around an arts residency in Glenrothes in Fife and free breath-related activities in a specially designed ‘drop-in’ space as part of the 2017 festival.

Lung disease is the third most common cause of death in Scotland. Given the hundreds of thousands of Scottish people affected by poor lung health, particularly in areas with high levels of socio-economic deprivation, we will aim to raise awareness of breathlessness among a wide public audience, exploring more fully its links to a range of both physiological and mental health conditions.

Edinburgh International Film Festival            

EIFF Ideas Laboratory


EIFF will work with the Beltane Public Engagement Network to host a series of public and talent development events focusing on comedy and science in film. In 2017 we will offer a number of events targeting filmmakers, young audiences and comedy lovers, in addition to our main public film audiences.

Events will include a discussion event looking at the science of humour and comedy; the third ‘Write to Research’ lab where six comedy screenwriters and six researchers will spend time discussing how and why comedy works; and a comedy evening where researchers will be invited to present their ideas to a questioning crowd. For younger audiences, the Laugh Off will engage 9-12 year olds in a discussion about what is funny and why, and what laughter does to the body. The EIFF Youth Hub Filmmaking Competition will connect 15-25 year olds with researchers and filmmakers to support them in creating a short film about the festival, followed by a public screening of the best films made.

Finally, expanding outside the festival dates, the screenwriter in residence programme will support a Scottish screenwriter in developing project ideas through access to research and researchers.


Eh!Woza: drug resistant TB music collaboration    


Eh!Woza’s have developed collaborative opportunities with talented young musicians from Cape Town townships and young people living with drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB). We aim to develop and formalise these emerging relationships and broaden Eh!Woza’s public engagement practice and impact.

Our workshops will bring together young people living with DR-TB who are enrolled in Eh!Woza, and biomedical researchers from Clinical Infectious Diseases Research Initiative-Africa and the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM). The young people will share personal narratives and explore the biomedicine of DR-TB, showing researchers the lived reality of DR-TB and inspiring musicians to produce new music and music videos. These videos will combine the personal stories of DR-TB affected youth and the experience of young musicians in poverty and disease-stricken areas. The project will culminate with an annual outdoor concert in the township on World TB Day, showcasing Eh!Woza’s youth-produced films and music videos along with live performances. 

Festival Republic         

Latitude 2017: Come the Revolution            


Latitude’s Wellcome Trust programme has grown in ambition, specificity and reach. Using what we have learnt from last year we have honed our objectives. We want to present science in a way that has specific relevance for the audience. We aim to achieve better health outcomes by encouraging audiences to embrace new research and increase understanding of themselves and the science of why and how. We want to make it ‘personal’ and easy to embrace the format and idea behind the science. We will be testing new ways of engaging people through theatrical and discursive formats.

Our 2016 evaluation showed greater scope to position science as part of our mainstream cultural programme for changing ideas, environments and how audiences access this information. It also helped us better understand 16-25 year-olds and their motivations for attending, which formats engaged them and their perception of science. In 2017 we will use our learning to design health-related science events specifically for this audience.

Through direct engagement with our audience, scientists have the opportunity to learn directly about the awareness and impact of their work, informing their research and setting up possible artist collaborators and future public engagement.

Florence Nightingale Museum    

A Touch of Flu: centenary of the Spanish flu pandemic    


In 2018 the Florence Nightingale Museum will tour ‘A Touch of Flu’, an exhibition focusing on the ‘Spanish’ flu pandemic, to open up dialogue about what we have learned to inform how we should respond to future outbreaks of disease. Between the early summer of 1918 and the spring of 1919 the ‘Spanish’ influenza (so-called because Spain was the only country not to censor reports of the spreading epidemic) claimed the lives of a quarter of a million people in Britain. Worldwide, the death toll from the flu has been estimated at 50 million – ten times as many as died in the First World War and ten million more than AIDS has killed over thirty years. 

Timed for the centenary of the pandemic in 2018, this project is part of a collaboration between the Florence Nightingale Museum, Queen Mary University of London and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Graeae Theatre Company    

Graeae at Marina Beach: outdoor performance, research and workshops in Chennai    


Graeae Theatre Company will reunite with deaf and disabled artists and researchers from Tamil Nadu and the outdoor performance company La Fura Dels Baus to create a new outdoor production on the themes of disability and isolation, playing to 30,000 people in Chennai. Alongside this performance, the team plan to develop skills and network with a new generation of artists with disabilities in South India, through a mentorship programme and four-week workshops in Chennai.

We will build on a year of development work with South Indian partners to create a more nuanced engagement with disability among the public and build a legacy of a more engaged and vocal disabled community in Chennai, raising public consideration and conversation around the social model of disability and encouraging a public that is more aware of the disabling effects of societal attitudes.

Infers Group    

Arting health for impact: Botswana, South Africa and India    


This project will explore the potential of using street art and collaborative design to engage the public on science and health in Botswana, India and South Africa. The team plan to forge collaborations between biomedical researchers, street artists and community members so they can interact with each other and create culturally-relevant and sensitive art installations in each of these countries. We will explore best practice in each country, in order to understand how scalable the project is as well as the impact of cross-country collaboration. 

International Documentary Festival Sheffield                  

Doc/Fest Exchange     


The Doc/Fest Exchange will be a welcoming, free pop-up space in the heart of Sheffield, hosting talks and events where audiences feel part of the discussion. Curated by Erinma Ochu, the Doc/Fest Exchange will host a breakfast reception for all festival audiences, followed by four talks related to the Doc/Fest 2017 talent, stories and experiences.

The Doc/Fest Exchange will be influenced by the festival’s programme, including films nominated for the Doc/Fest Illuminate Award exploring the screen chemistry between human storytelling and scientific understanding.

As part of our expanding cross-platform programming initiative, we will welcome back the Doc/Fest researcher programme. We would like to encourage researchers to connect with storytellers, interactive and virtual reality makers and others who are attending the festival.

Laburnum Boat Club    

Youth Afloat    


The Laburnum Boat Club is a community-based boating project by the Regents Canal in south Hackney. It is a voluntary organisation managed by local people and it aims to provide opportunities for the personal development of children, young people and their families in the local community. Youth Afloat will engage young people (aged nine to 19) with a programme of formal and informal activities designed to improve their overall physical wellbeing, enhance their understanding of good health and introduce them to the scientific research methods used to explore these topics. This project aims to provide transferable skills in scientific enquiry and the exploration of evidence. 

MACHA Productions  

Madame Geneva: a tale of gin and prostitution


Macha Productions seeks to stage Madame Geneva, a bawdy song and dance set in 18th century London where performance, baroque, folk, contemporary music, professional and community actors all meet over a bottle of gin. Madame Geneva, the popular name for gin, lands with the Dutch armies of William of Orange, almost immediately invoking a gloriously decadent atmosphere across the classes. Sold at the cornershop, she offers the poor – particularly women – easy-to-access alcohol. The government struggles to find a way to reap rewards from gin taxes while trying to stop the lower classes from imbibing. To this end, Madame Geneva’s gin-addled image has been tied to fallen women, fishwives and bad mothers. This in turn influenced the establishment of the Magdalen Penitentiary where approaches to the reform of fallen women institutionalise narratives of good and bad women.

These moral narratives have survived and underpin current approaches to women, poverty, addiction, public health and social policy. Working with trainee actors from some of Northern Ireland’s most deprived communities and Dr Anne Campbell, Macha Productions’ professional team will premiere Madame Geneva at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast to provoke awareness, debate and media coverage on the rising tide of addiction that rampages through Northern Ireland’s post-conflict society.

University of Manchester    

Extending the 14-day rule: what do citizens believe is right?    


Research on human embryos can only happen under a license in the UK and it is illegal to keep them alive in laboratories for more than 14 days after fertilisation. This is called the ‘14-day rule’. Some scientists recently called for an extension of up to 28 days to enable better research into why early miscarriage occurs, and to improve our understanding of diseases. A YouGov survey, found that 48% of the people they asked supported extending the 14-day rule and 25% were unsure. This is a complex question and surveys do not provide sufficient evidence to enable people to make informed judgements.

We will scope the development of a project to engage the public in this important question, exploring the use of a variety of methods including citizens’ juries.

Young Vic Company   

Wings at the Young Vic                 


The Young Vic has a reputation for creating ground-breaking shows with the most talented artists. We keep ticket prices low and give 10 per cent away for free to non-traditional theatre audiences. This gives us one of the most exciting, diverse and young audiences in the country. In autumn 2017, director Natalie Abrahami will stage Arthur Kopit’s Wings with Juliet Stevenson playing the lead role of a woman experiencing the aftermath of a debilitating stroke. We will work with neurologist Dr Paul Jarman and stroke patients, and the show will reach a large and diverse audience.

Alongside the run of 45 performances in September and October 2017, we will have a programme of activities that will widen Wings’ reach and impact, including three post-show talks, four in-school and two on-stage workshops and a funded ticket scheme. We will also put on a community show inspired by Wings working with adults experiencing dementia or neurological disorders. This will be performed at the Young Vic, in care homes and medical centres.

Zimbabwe National Association for Mental Health 

Z Factor        


Zimbabwean culture has always valued drama, music and dance as crucial elements of community socialisation and unity. Drawing from some of the experience of our collaborators and technical advisors, this project will introduce a community arts and culture competition, called Z Factor, as a creative way of opening up conversations, sparking public debate and tackling stigma attached to psychosis in rural Zimbabwe. 

Our overall aim is to help combat stigma by offering alternative explanations as well as learning more about community perceptions with the hope to identify suggestions for how traditional and modern care pathways for psychosis may collaborate. 

Previous schemes (2010-2016)

Small Arts Awards

Large Arts Awards

Development Fund

International Engagement Awards

People Awards

Society Awards

Capital Awards

Capital Awards for Learned Societies