STEAM Symposium

Many thanks to all of our fantastic speakers, contributors and attendees for making our STEAM Symposium such a fantastic catalyst for collaboration between a diverse range of industries. Keep your eyes peeled for more as we campaign to turn STEM to STEAM in 2016 and beyond...

Here's how to get involved by organising your very own STEAM Powered event for The Big Draw Festival 1-31 October 2016: Organise an event!

#STEAMSymposium: Laboratory of Visual Exploration | 10 Sept 2016

Presented by The Big Draw in partnership with The University of Lincoln & BALTIC 



Contributing Organisations & Speakers:


A visual learning adventure for educators or anyone interested in the power of cross-disciplinary approaches to learning.

The day-long event saw the worlds of digital technology, science, art, and engineering converge to demonstrate the importance of art alongside and within other subjects. Expert contributors, special guests, visual literacy advocates and innovators discussed and demonstrated the integral role of creativity and drawing within their disciplines. Educators were invited to take part in workshops, digital drawing demonstrations, interactive experiments and innovative installations, which aimed to show why STEM should become STEAM.

The event was sponsored by The University of Lincoln as part of a three-year relationship with The Big Draw, and supported by the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead.  The event highlighted the importance of visual literacy in the UK. The Big Draw's educational programme is supported by ACE.



STEAM Keynote:  Dr David Glowacki: Scientist, Artist and Cultural Theorist, Royal Society Research Fellow at the University of Bristol

Debbie Beeks: Seven Stories National Centre for Children's Books | Sophie Lisa Beresford: Performance and visual artist | Andy Buck: Reflections Studio, Ubisoft | Tim Crawley, Master Stone Carver, Sculptor, Designer & City & Guilds of London Art School | Professor Matthew Cragoe, University of Lincoln Michael Gandham: Arcus Studios | Dominic Hopkinson: Sculptor | Dr James Howie: ASCUS Art & Science |  Garry Hunter: Visual artist, curator & author, Fitzrovia NoirCIC | Esen Kaya: The Customs House | Carenza Lewis | University of Lincoln also of Time Team fame | Kate Mason: The Big Draw | Pen Mendonça, Artist, Graphic Facilitator Storyteller and Researcher David Moraton: Digital Artist, Animator and Computer Science Engineer | Susan Coles, Ruth Robinson, Leanne Allread and Paul Raymond for NEATEN (North East Art Teacher Educator Network) Frances Quinn, Designer, Baker, Serial Sketcher, Great British Bake Off winner 2013 | Tanya Raabe-Webber, Artist and Big Draw Ambassador | Zoom Rockman Writer, lllustrator, Cartoonist & Publisher  | Maria Rossini: The British Science Association | Emma Thomas: BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art | Dr James Upton: Art Neuro | Francesca Wilson, ARTiculation, The Roche Court Educational Trust Dr Mark Wright: ACTLab at FACT (The Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) and The Contemporary Art Lab at The School of Art and Design, Liverpool John Moore's University.


Eileen Adams: Education Consultant, Researcher & Writer (Publications) |Dr Gemma Anderson: Artist and Lecturer in Drawing at Falmouth University, Honorary Research Fellow, Egenis, University of Exeter, Drawing Research Associate, The Big Draw (video)| Natasha Bird, Artist (video) | Alessio Corti: Professor of Mathematics at Imperial College London specialising in geometry| Professor Roger Kneebone: Surgeon & Professor of Surgical Education and Engagement Science, Imperial College (video) | Carenza Lewis, Professor for the Public Understanding of Research at the University of Lincoln(workshop)| Jevon Mahoney and Matt James, BA(hons) Interactive Design, University of Lincoln (installation) | David Moraton: Digital Artist, Animator and Computer Science Engineer (video) |  NEATEN (North East Art Teachers Education Network) (workshop) | Sir Roger Penrose OM FRS: mathematical physicist, mathematician (video) , Tanya Raabe-Webber, Artist and Big Draw Ambassador presents Portraits Untold (workshop)|| Bob & Robert Smith, Artist (video) | Seven Stories National Centre for Children’s Books | Nicholas Mortimer, Artist & Interactive Designer (video)| Julia Midgley Award winning Reportage Artist (video) | Lydia Wysocki, Research Assistant Research, ROMtels Erasmus+ project, Newcastle University (Publications)  


Interested in organising your own STEAM Powered Big Draw Festival event? Find out how to GET INVOLVED HERE.




BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, NE8 3BA  

4th Floor & The Playground Project Rooms


Dr. David Glowacki, Still from Hidden Fields 2014 from danceroom Spectroscopy on Vimeo.


The Symposium took place: Saturday 10 September | 10am - 7pm

All day symposium, playground, installations and workshops.


The event will shine a spotlight on the role of visual literacy and drawing across the curriculum and diverse national industries, as the number of students completing art and design GSCEs fails to increase for the third year in a row.

The arts and culture industry is worth £7.7 billion to the UK economy [1]. However, in England the number of students taking art and design subjects in 2016 has declined, by 5.5% at GCSE and by 4% at A-level [2]. This is despite an overall increase in GCSE entries, according to exam watchdog Ofqual.

Professor Matthew Cragoe, Pro Vice Chancellor of the College of Arts at the University of Lincoln, said:

“The arts form such an essential component of the British economy that the decline in the number of students pursuing art and design subjects at GCSE and A Level should be a cause for national concern. We hope that this wonderfully inter-disciplinary event on visual literacy will both focus attention on the problem and give people a wide range of exciting ideas to take away with them.”


  1. To outline the definition of what we mean by visual literacy.
  2. To underline the huge role 'drawing' in it's widest possible interpretation plays in underpinning professional practice across a spectrum of disciplines.
  3. To raise awareness and understanding of the role of visual literacy as a 'mode of thinking’ and the vital role this plays in our contemporary culture.

The STEAM Symposium is all about 'exploring, sharing and showcasing’ how the subjects of arts, science, tech and digital are fluid not fixed, and experimenting with what happens when they come together.


Keep informed about the symposium by signing up to the newsletter here. 


For any enquiries regarding the #STEAM Symposium and group ticket enquiries please do get in touch: Rachel Price.

Press enquiries please direct to: Amy Clancy


The STEAM Powered Big Draw Festival 2016 

The Big Draw’s belief in the role and value of arts within education and support of the STEAM agenda was revealed with the announcement of the theme for the charity’s annual international drawing festival, which takes place from 1-31 October. The 2016 theme, The STEAM Powered Big Draw Festival 2016, is part of the charity’s campaign to give the arts parity with Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, so that STEM becomes STEAM.

Read The Big Draw’s full press release for The STEAM Powered Big Draw Festival 2016 here.