Halifax's Eureka! calls for Government Emergency Resilience Funding

Child exploring a digital exhibition at Eureka!Child exploring a digital exhibition at Eureka!
Child exploring a digital exhibition at Eureka! | jpimedia
Eureka! along with over 40 members of the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres (ASDC) has today joined the Science Centres For Our Future campaign.

The campaign is calling on the government to set up an Emergency Resilience Fund to support the UK’s world-class network of regional Science Centres.

Eureka! has been a successful self-sustaining charity for 28 years with no government funding to support running costs.

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Leigh-Anne Stradeski, Eureka! Chief Executive, said: “It's essential we continue to inspire the scientists of the future, which has been at the heart of the Eureka! experience for 28 years.

"Science centres such as ours are pivotal in igniting a love of science amongst children from all backgrounds.

"We have the unique role of capturing the innate sense of curiosity and discovery of children from their earliest years through primary school which leads to a lifetime love of learning.

"It's in times such as now, in the midst of a pandemic, we must ensure the survival of our science centres to help create the next generation of scientists.”

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Due to Covid-19, Eureka! closed its doors to visitors in March, cancelled education programmes and stopped all events, cutting off every vital revenue stream for the charity.

To highlight the crucial role UK Science Centres play in making science accessible to all, Eureka! is joining a nationwide campaign which is being supported by some of the UK’s leading science advocates including Professor Alice Roberts.

Dr Penny Fidler, CEO of ASDC, said: “As a nation and as a global society we have some major challenges ahead, especially in relation to climate and coronavirus.

"To solve these challenges we need an entrepreneurial and scientifically engaged society. Science Centres unlock science for people, making it accessible and interesting to millions of children and adults each year.

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"Without support we will start to lose these popular cultural resources that offer access into science for all.”

The Science Centres For Our Future campaign (#ScienceCentresForOurFuture) supports ASDC’s submission to government, asking it to urgently grant £25 million in Emergency Resilience Funding to secure the future of the whole network of UK Science Centres. Future-focussed Science Centres like Eureka! are unable to access to the Arts Council or Heritage Emergency grants and, without government support, many UK Science Centres are at risk.

Alice Roberts, Professor of Public Engagement in Science, University of Birmingham and ASDC Patron, said: “From Eureka!, the Glasgow Science Centre and the Eden Project, to the Centre for Alternative Energy and the Centre for Life in Newcastle - our Science Centres and museums are important as places where people can learn about many different branches of science, get inspired, and satisfy their own curiosity.

"These centres support hands-on learning for children, all the way through to lifelong learning for adults.

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"Like many other cultural institutions, Science Centres are struggling at this time - they need our support. I hope the government can help them survive, so that they can continue their crucial work, making science accessible for everyone.”

At a time when science is so important and with major global challenges ahead from both Covid-19 and climate change, Science Centres provide our regional cities and towns with crucial opportunities to access science, in an approachable and engaging way, helping to inspire our next generation of scientists and engineers.

Eureka! is a valuable community resource, drawing more than 300,000 visitors to the region annually, from across the UK. Nationally, hands-on Science and Discovery Centres like Eureka! welcome over 13 million people in regions outside London and contribute over £200million per year to local economies.

Eureka! is a vitally important resource for Yorkshire. Many will have fond memories of school visits and family days out, learning new things and being inspired by interactive and hands-on experiences such as examining the giant teeth, talking with the museum robot and watching Archimedes take his bath! Many children and young people have been inspired by their visit to Eureka!, going on to pursue studies and careers in science – and more will follow in their footsteps.

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But, in lockdown and with no or significantly reduced revenue streams, Science Centres face a chronic funding gap. As charities, centres like Eureka! cannot take on large debts as, whilst the furlough has been hugely helpful, costs like utility bills, insurance, payroll, site security and rents still need to be paid.

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