TEDxExeter ideas festival reaches a global audience




24th April 2018

Thousands of people gathered across Devon and beyond to hear leading thinkers tackle global issues, from the environment to mental health, at TEDxExeter 2018.


The seventh annual ideas festival at the Exeter Northcott Theatre on Friday 20th April had sold out within minutes, with hundreds more attendees watching a simultaneous livestream at the University of Exeter’s Alumni Auditorium.


Schools and libraries across Devon held their own livestreams, with the day’s talks and performances also being screened at venues including the Exeter Phoenix, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) and CoLab.


Thousands of people around the world watched online as local and international speakers tackled diverse issues including sleep, human rights and the environmental harm caused by single-use plastics, linked by the overarching theme ‘Connect’.


They included Devon barber Tom Chapman, founder of the Lions Barber Collective, which works to prevent suicide by encouraging conversations about mental health, and Rebekah Afari, a former student of the Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education and member of the youth advisory board of the National Deaf Children’s Society.


Another highlight of the day was a talk by Dawn Faizey Webster, who learned to communicate by blinking after a stroke left her with Locked-In Syndrome.


Once again TEDxExeter held a series of spin-off events alongside this year's ideas festival. These ‘adventures’ expanded on some of the themes of the event, including inclusive growth, sustainable fashion, modern slavery and single-use plastics.


On Thursday 19th April, TEDxExeter speaker Anthony Painter and colleagues from the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) joined 40 senior leaders from across the region at RAMM to explore what ideas of ‘inclusive growth’ might mean for greater Exeter.


Later that day, TEDxExeter speaker Patrick Grant and Lucy Clayton, from Community Clothing, led an interactive workshop at the University’s Business School around the themes of sustainability, fashion and social enterprise.


The topic of modern day slavery was covered in a powerful talk on the day and in a moving photographic exhibition brought to TEDxExeter by the National Crime Agency. The police Anti-Slavery Partnership and Unseen were also present on the day, so that the audience could find out more about modern slavery and what they can do to spot signs in their communities.


The problem of single-use plastics was also a major theme at this year’s TEDxExeter. To complement the talk by young campaigners Amy and Ella Meek on becoming plastic clever, reusable water bottles from Give Me Tap were given out to all attendees: the profits have funded clean water for over 300 people for 20 years in northern Ghana. South West Water provided a bowser to fill them, saving thousands of plastic cups at the event. A number of water charities were also represented to get delegates thinking about the impact of single-use plastics, what they can do to cut down on their plastic consumption, and how they can support Refill Devon, a tap water campaign that aims to introduce refill points on every street.


Claire Kennedy, licensee and curator of TEDxExeter, said: “Ideas worth spreading are at the heart of TEDxExeter, and our talks have now been viewed 18.5 million times online - ideas from Exeter reaching the world. But we want to encourage our audience to turn inspiration to action, so we were really excited to run a series of adventures alongside this year's main TEDxExeter conference again this year.


“It was amazing to see the speakers reaching out personally to our communities and exploring their themes in more depth. The reaction from the audience, and Exeter as a whole, has been wonderful and we look forward to seeing the ripple effects from this year's event for many months, or even years, to come.”


The full line-up of speakers and performers was made up of:


Alan Crickmore – Ambassador for Storybook Dads

Amy & Ella Meek – Founders of campaign Kids Against Plastic

Anthony Painter – Director of the Action and Research Centre at the Royal Society of Arts

Vicki Culpin – Psychologist and professor of organizational behavior at Ashridge Executive Education

Patrick Grant – Founder of Community Clothing, and a regular media presenter and commentator on fashion, clothing and textiles

Rebekah Afari – Former student at the Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education and member of the youth advisory board of the National Deaf Children’s Society

Tom Chapman – Founder of the Lions Barber Collective, which helps to prevent suicide

Professor Sophie Scott – Deputy Director, UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience; Royal Institution Christmas Lecturer 2017

Kate Garbers – Director of Unseen, a charity working towards a world without slavery

Cóilín Nunan – Scientific adviser to the Soil Association and to the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics

Farrah Storr – Editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan

Dexter Dias – Human rights barrister, part-time Crown Court judge and author, who works pro bono internationally with survivors of FGM, modern day slavery, human trafficking and violence against women and girls

Rafida Bonya Ahmed – a secularist thinker, writer and campaigner who survived a brutal Islamist attack in which her husband was killed

JJ Bola – A Kinshasa-born, London-raised writer, poet, and educator

Glass Parachutes – Featuring musicians Fionn Connolly, Finlay Stafford, David Nunn and Freddie Redding

Dawn Faizey Webster – a postgraduate researcher in architectural history at York University, who has pursued her academic career despite developing Locked-In Syndrome after suffering a stroke.


All the talks will be available to watch for free online next month once the videos have been edited.


TEDxExeter is a not-for-profit event licensed by TED, organised by a team of volunteers and made possible by support from sponsors, including local businesses. TEDxExeter’s 2018 annual ideas festival sold out in minutes. It was attended by a combined audience of more than 900 people in the Exeter Northcott theatre and Exeter University’s Alumni Auditorium. Free public livestream events were held at RAMM, Exeter Library, the Phoenix, CoLab and the Devon Business & Education Centre, while thousands more people were watching the livestream around the world.


For more information, visit tedxexeter.com


Follow TEDxExeter on Twitter and Facebook. Visit the TEDxExeter website where you can sign up to receive the newsletter.


TEDxExeter is made possible by the generosity of the following local companies who support the event:


AnTech; Bird – Share Your Sun; Bishop Fleming; Crowdcube; Dacors Design; Egremont Group; Event Exeter; Exeter City Council; Exeter College; First Sight Media; Hawksmoor Investment Management; Hotel du Vin Exeter; Luscombe Drinks; MailChimp; Matt Round Photography; Maven Consultancy; One Voice Media & PR; Oxygen House; Psychology Associates; Saks Exeter; STC Expeditions; Stephens Scown; Stormpress; SunGift Energy; University of Exeter; Yellowtail Financial Planning.



Image credited to Matt Round Photography

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