Swansea University’s series of Being Human festival events utilised a variety of venues on the south-west Wales coast to explore ‘heritage, health and wellbeing’ through a range of media. The team behind these activities explain how drama, debate, poetry, art and enterprise were brought into play. 

  • Can you tell us about your programming?

We were delighted and excited to showcase what it means to be human through heritage, health and wellbeing, themes which enable us to bring together researchers, actors, artists and poets to engage with the public in truly innovative ways. Performance, puppetry, art, debate and ‘healing plants’ all feature in 2015!

  • What inspired you to get involved with Being Human 2015?

Following the success of our Rediscovering Dylan Thomas events in the inaugural 2014 Being Human festival, we were inspired to reconnect with the community to consider the essence of ‘being human’ under a different theme, in new spaces and through new partnerships. We relish the challenge this festival offers to reach a wide variety of audiences in imaginative ways.

  • How did you come up with your theme for this year?

We opted for the theme of ‘Heritage, health and wellbeing’ because it encapsulates issues which resonate with our researchers and people of all ages within the community of Swansea. Our theme links experts in heritage, community research and disability history with creative writers, and inspires events through the medium of English and Welsh in places of historical interest such as the Hafod Morfa Copperworks in the lower Swansea valley.

  • Can you tell us about a few highlights from your programme?

Our very own ‘Lord Sugar’ led a judging panel as school teams compete for the title of Young Heritage Apprentice 2015. We also had a live art session for all ages at the Hafod Morfa Copperworks with London-based artist Dan Llywelyn Hall. Other highlights included poetry nights in coffee shops and chapels; a public debate on disability and wellbeing; puppetry, performance and music on a farm; and a medieval garden with healing plants.

  • What will people in Swansea get out of coming to these events?

We hope that the people of Swansea will strengthen their connection with their history and heritage and relish the opportunity for self-expression through a variety of forms such as art, poetry and debate. In bringing researchers and the public together, we are emphasising that the humanities really matter and have a distinctive role to play in enriching our communities and environment.

  • What do you think the legacy of this year’s festival will be?

For the people of Swansea, we aim to leave a lasting legacy of this year’s festival through, for example, artwork to be exhibited in the city and incorporation of public ideas into the next regeneration phase of the Hafod Morfa Coppperworks. More broadly, given the volume of activity taking place across the UK, this festival will inspire and enthuse and we are delighted to play a small part in it.