IF Oxford COVID-19 status update

27 April 2020

The Future of the Festival

The UK COVID-19 situation is changing daily and for IF Oxford to define its Festival, due to take place in October, at this stage would be short sighted.

The Festival will take place and to give everyone a little time to plan accordingly we have extended the proposals deadline to 1 June 2020 for (provisional) Festival dates 16–26 October 2020.

You may like to join our videoconference at 2pm on Tuesday 19 May 2020 to explore options together.

Book for videoconference

The Current State of Affairs

Many venues are anticipated to be closed for up to six more months, but some may be allowed to open in September or October; small gatherings may be permitted in pubs, cafes and restaurants. Large public gatherings such as concerts or sporting events are unlikely to take place this autumn.

Science festivals across the UK typically use a range of event formats, platforms and venues of different sizes. Those festivals due to take place in late summer or autumn, are considering their options. We confirm that IF Oxford will take place in a responsible way that maintains a science and ideas festival this October: our commitment to our communities is unwavering and we hope Oxford-based institutions, together with others from across the UK will feel able to make a contribution in these challenging times.

Two people and a small Board of Trustees run the charity that traditionally coordinates the independent science and ideas festival in Oxford, bringing together several hundred professionals and thousands of visitors through its inimitable mix of events. We hosted five videoconferences in March and April to explore possible avenues. These included open meetings with past and potential contributors to IF Oxford, and closed-group discussions with other festival managers across the UK to share crisis planning and ideas for medium-term action.

We are in communication with national organisations and funders including UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), Arts Council England, the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) and the British Science Association. We have ongoing dialogue around cultural cooperation with Oxford-based theatres, community groups, educational institutions and statutory organisations. We are developing ideas with individual research groups on how to re-purpose their original proposals.

At this stage, examples of events within our Festival this year might be:

  • on demand digital content;
  • a range of printed content;
  • live-streamed digital events with a focus on a dynamic audience engagement; or
  • small-scale live physical events that operate within the social distancing rules understood at the time.

We ask all those interested in finding meaningful and relevant ways to have public conversations about complex and interesting topics, to submit a proposal via the Festival website or to get in touch with Cathy and Dane, the Festival team.

Events proposal Information

Your Participation

Submitting a proposal at this stage does not commit you to participating, or participating in the way you originally describe in your proposal, and we will work with all contributors to make the best possible Festival for residents, workers, visitors and digital visitors to Oxford in October this year!

We welcome all great ideas on subjects that can resonate with public audiences, from our changing climate and environment, to quantum physics or the impacts of social media on society, and much, much more. October raises awareness of Black History Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, ADHD Awareness Month and Earth Sciences Week. The year 2020, evokes 20/20 vision, and marks anniversaries, eg: births of Roger Bacon (~800th) and John Graunt (400th), discovery of electromagnetism (200th) and X-rays (125th), birth of Rosalind Franklin (100th) and the death of George Orwell (70th). You may also want to highlight an aspect of COVID-19.

To see the events proposals process and submit your idea, please visit: