Hay Festival and NERC launch Trans.MISSION II global project merging science and art

25 May 2019

Hay Festival and NERC have today unveiled Trans.MISSION II, a new global project pairing leading environmental researchers with award-winning storytellers to communicate cutting-edge science to new audiences.

Hay Festival graphic

At a time of unprecedented public interest in how human actions affect the environment, Trans.MISSION II will pair NERC researchers from Peru, Colombia and the UK with artists and storytellers in each country to create new stories about ongoing research projects.

An artist, illustrator or animator will then be commissioned to create an overarching piece - an animation, infographic or animated text - that will combine and communicate the common themes. These pieces will aim to inform, engage and inspire members of the public and future researchers regarding environmental science and the processes of research.

Trans.MISSION II is the first international public engagement collaboration project for NERC, with each new piece to be launched at Hay Festival events in Arequipa, Peru (7-10 November 2019); Cartagena, Colombia (30 January - 2 February 2020) and in Hay-on-Wye, Wales (21-31 May 2020).

Colombia's collaboration will focus on the importance of biodiversity and feature Colombian art critic, curator, translator and author Juan Cardenas, Peru's will focus on tropical glaciers and will feature writer, theatre producer and actress Erika Stockholm, and the UK will look at droughts and water scarcity with participants to be announced soon.

The project follows 2018's UK-only pilot, which saw three films released: Message from Antarctica by polar researcher Emily Shuckburgh and illustrator Chris Haughton, Clean Air Starts at Home by Aardman Animation Studios director Dan Binns and atmospheric chemist Professor Ally Lewis (voiced by Marcus Brigstocke), and theWeather Watching series by poet Nicola Davies and climate scientist Ed Hawkins.

Andy Fryers, Sustainability Director at Hay Festival, said:

Hay Festival is a home for storytellers, a space for writers and readers to come together and explore the biggest challenges of our time. Trans.MISSION II offers a new platform for collaboration between storytellers from two different worlds, artists and scientists. We hope that by building this shared space for engagement at the cutting edge of environmental research with NERC we can find new ways to imagine a better future together.

Alison Robinson, Director of Corporate Affairs, Futures & Change at NERC, said:

I am so pleased NERC is again able to work with Hay Festival, this time to take Trans.MISSION II to a global audience. Trans.MISSION II brings cutting-edge environmental science alive, to allows people to grapple with environmental challenges and come together to share their experiences and expertise, informed by excellent science. Trans.MISSION II is a collaboration between researchers and storytellers, and brings important new perspectives on our world. We are very excited to see what people can gain from these stories as they unfold.

NERC is the UK's main agency for funding environmental science, covering the full range of research from the deep oceans to the upper atmosphere and from the poles to the equator. Tackling major issues such as clean air, water and energy, extreme weather and the impact of our environment on human health, NERC scientists play a critical role in understanding how our planet works.

Hay Festival addresses environmental concerns through its Green Hay programme of conversations and lectures, and by working hard to limit its own negative environmental impacts. Mains electricity at the Festival is 100% renewable, 80% of waste produced on site is recycled, and last year it was the first festival in the UK to offer a reusable hot drink cups system.

The project announcement was made at the 32nd Hay Festival Wales (23 May - 2 June 2019), where over 600 speakers appear in conversations, debates and performances across 11 days.

Further information

Josie Rylands
Press & Communications Officer
01793 411787

1. NERC is the UK's main agency for funding and managing research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. Our work covers the full range of atmospheric, Earth, biological, terrestrial and aquatic science, from the deep oceans to the upper atmosphere and from the poles to the equator. We coordinate some of the world's most exciting research projects, tackling major environmental issues such as climate change, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on Earth, and much more. NERC is part of UK Research & Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.

2. Hay Festival is a not-for-profit organisation that brings readers and writers together to share stories and ideas in sustainable events around the world. The festivals inspire, examine and entertain, inviting participants to imagine the world as it is and as it might be. Nobel Prize-winners and novelists, scientists and politicians, historians and musicians talk with audiences in a dynamic exchange of ideas. The festival's global conversation shares the latest thinking in the arts and sciences with curious audiences live, in print and online. Hay Festival also runs wide programmes of education work supporting coming generations of writers and culturally hungry audiences of all ages.