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Being Human Cafés

This year we are introducing a new way to get involved in the festival: Being Human Cafés. Across the UK, we are inviting people to put the kettle on, break out the biscuits and engage with some new ideas in the humanities in the time that it takes to have a cup of tea or coffee. We want to see Being Human Cafés (physical or virtual) appearing across the UK in November.

What are they?

The whole idea behind Being Human Cafés is that they are simple, easy, and fun to organise. All you need is a researcher, some tea, coffee and biscuits and a space (which can be online) where you can get together to have a chat.

Can I do a Café?

Yes! Whether in digital form or (social distancing allowing), in ‘real life’, we want to see cafés popping up across the UK this year. They can be really simple: just tea, coffee, chat. Alternatively, they can be more ambitious. People might want to include activities and short performances in their café. People might want to decorate them and make them special and memorable. People might (we hope) want to give them a really local twist. Cafés need to be free to attend, but don’t need to offer free food and drink (although that’s a plus!).

Can they be online/ virtual?

Yes! Being Human Cafés could be convened via an online platform of your choice. All you really need is a way for people to gather, with tea and coffee, to engage with a researcher. Being Human Cafés might also be a good way of continuing community connections forged during lockdown (e.g. neighbourhood social media groups, closer connections with local schools). This might be a particularly nice thing to do if people are missing a familiar local Café that’s not able to open under COVID-19 restrictions.

Why should I do a Café?

We have introduced this idea to give you a simple way to get involved in the festival. Cafés should be easy to organise, and not too demanding on budgets. They could be a simple way of getting involved for the first time, or they could be an easy way to get involved in 2020 if you’re looking to do something less full-on than usual. They should be a simple and effective way of engaging some new audiences with humanities research and joining in with the national festival. It’s a good light-touch way to get involved, and to make sure that there’s a Being Human event happening in your part of the UK.

Can I do it last minute?

Obviously we want to get details as early as possible so that we can celebrate your Being Human café along with the rest of our programme, but under the circumstances we want to be as flexible as we can. With that in mind, we are open to expressions of interest to organise Being Human Cafés right up to the start of September – giving you a bit more thinking and preparation time.

Now all you need to do is start planning your event. Whether it’s the public engagement equivalent of a much loved local greasy spoon or a fancy delicatessen that you visit for a treat, whether it takes place face to face or takes place via Zoom in people’s living rooms – we really hope that this is a simple, inclusive way to get involved in this year’s festival. So get planning, and get creative!