30th Orkney International Science Festival Great Success

The restrictions to holding events during the Covid19 pandemic may have limited many but the organisers of the Orkney International Science Festival (OISF) rose to the challenge and produced a fabulous online series of talks and films.

This was the 30th year of the Festival and the team had to utilise the considerable skills in online media present in the community. What they came up with was both engaging and informative.

Commenting, Festival Director Howie Firth said that help from the community was the key.

Howie Firth said:

“It would have been impossible without this.”

Festival Director, Dr Howie Firth MBE

“On the technical side we were able to draw on so much skill and experience in Orkney and across the north of Scotland, and people gave hundreds of hours of time to help a system take shape and to test and practice and train in its use. The technical team provided a solid foundation on which everything else could be built.

“There are so many ways in which people helped, across the whole community. We had a wonderful range of videos created for us, and a wealth of material on food and drink.

“There was a total commitment from everyone. A number of the people helping us had big work or family commitments, and one or two had health issues, but it made no difference to any of them, they were so focused on delivering.

“Every speaker put in so much effort to get everything right. There were some familiar with the technology and some for whom it was the first time, but they responded with the same commitment.

“They always found a way to take part. Dr Fred Hocker was to speak from the Vasa Museum in Stockholm about the 400-year-old Vasa ship, but he had to travel to Connecticut, so he spoke to us from the deck of a tall ship there instead.”

Mr Firth said that the Festival had been determined that every event in the programme would be included in the online delivery, including the popular Peedie Kirk lunches, the Festival Club and the ceilidh.

“For these various social events there was a system of online tables, so that people could meet and chat in small groups. For the Peedie Kirk lunches and the Skaill House tea, there was also a full-scale set of recipes and guidance for preparing a whole range of Orkney fare, with links to local suppliers.

“The online exhibitions have also turned out brilliantly, with again much commitment from talented people.”

Painting of a Faroese smack (Johanna) by Faroese artist Hans Skalagaard – one of the images shown by John Goodland in his talk ‘The Cod Hunters’ – one of the talks celebrating the Year of Coasts and Waters theme.

Howie Firth continued:

“The closing event was remarkable. It was a three-way collaboration with OREF and Community Energy Scotland, a 90-minute session showcasing Orkney’s community energy projects to islands worldwide taking part in the Virtual Island Summit. “

The science festival included over 50 online talks and 30 films and has created a permanent resource on YouTube for the community and for schools. There are more materials for schools which will be available soon.

The OISF also used its platform to host the Aviation Festival which meant that 3 of its excellent talks could go ahead.

It linked up too with the Foraging Fortnight.

The Festival’s core funders are Orkney Islands Council, EventScotland, and the LEADER programme through its Foraging Fortnight initiative.

To watch the videos click onto the YouTube channel: OISF Festival

The Orkney News covered several of the talks. Search our archives if you want to read more about them.

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