IWD2024: Women behind the Festival!

To mark International Women's Day, we've spoken to two incredible women who work tirelessly behind the scenes to bring The Great Exhibition Road Festival to life each year!

Vicky Brightman, Festival Director (and Director of Public Engagement, Imperial College London) and Veronica Jones, Festival Producer.

What is your role working on The Great Exhibition Road Festival?

Vicky: My role is to ensure our collective vision for the festival, across Imperial and our wide range of incredible partners, is maintained and shines through festival experience. I also aim to support the festival team to carry out their roles to make the festival a memorable and rewarding experience for our visitors, staff, and partners alike - I’m lucky as the team make that job an absolute pleasure! I’m also responsible for ensuring we have the funds to make the festival happen and that there is governance and evaluation to ensure we work effectively.  

Veronica: I lead on operations and logistics to bring ideas to life, but also to provide a fun and safe environment for our visitors, volunteers, and research teams to enjoy. I work closely with multiple internal teams like estate, central safety, business continuity and security, and am responsible for producing the event management safety plan, festival risk assessment, production schedule, contractor management and chairing key planning meetings amongst many other things.

What is your favourite memory from a previous Great Exhibition Road Festival?

Vicky: Photo bombing into a shot with Sir Mo Farrah, our special guest in 2022! But really it was meeting the first cohort of Young Producers in 2022 and hearing first hand their experiences in helping us to curate parts of the festival to make sure it appeals to more diverse young people.

Veronica: Hard to single out one thing because there are so many. That said, it was heartwarming to see the success of the Family Zone in Prince’s Gardens last year because it’s an area we’ve been developing over the years. It was full of colour and lots of curious smiley faces engaging up close with science, including my own three-year-old niece, which was lovely to see!

 What are you most looking forward to when the festival returns this June?

Vicky: Seeing Exhibition Road closed to traffic and bursting with life, colour and passionate people all enjoying themselves makes me tear up every year! I will never get tired of experiencing that.

Veronica: I’m always amazed by the creativity of our research teams and the way they collaborate with other institutions and artists to bring their research to the public. This makes the festival unique because you probably won’t see content like this anywhere else, certainly not on this scale.  I’m also looking forward to our new cabaret style talks programme this year, because it’s new to the festival and the content sounds fab! 

Vicky Brightman alongside Hamza Taouzzale (the Lord Mayor of Westminster) at the Great Exhibition Road Festival in 2022! 

Veronica Jones