COVID-19 Update

Photo by Will Brunt

ASCUS Art & Science Reopening Update

August 2020 statement

As ASCUS Art & Science’s public programme remains paused, we have been trailing a small scale reopening of the ASCUS Lab facility with our lab members.

We are missing seeing you all, our broader community of lab users, audiences and collaborators face to face, but we look forward to welcoming you back to ASCUS as soon as we are able to do so.

Things have temporarily changed for the ASCUS Team and we want to take this opportunity to thank Sarah our former Projects and Communications Coordinator and Dr Jiri Jirout our former Lab Technician for their work with us having both left in July this year. They will both be missed as part of the day to day fabric of ASCUS but we wish them all the best on their new and exciting journeys.

However, even though changes are afoot, we are excited about things to come and we are committed to building a new team and reimagining the future for our organisation to best serve you our community.

From the beginning of July ASCUS resumed operations part time to begin research and development into new ways of working in response to the Covid-19 crisis and to begin preparations for our lab members to return step by step.

We are working towards the phased reopening of our lab in a reduced capacity to begin with. Therefore if all continues as forecast with the current easing of lockdown by the Scottish Government, we plan to be able to facilitate the following:

Our Reopening Timeline

Aug 2020
Sept 2020
Aug – Dec 2020
Trial run of pre-booked solo access for lab project holders – already underway
Expansion of pre-booked solo access for all current lab members
Research and development for steps needed to move aspects of the ASCUS programme online
Unfortunately for the moment our broader programme of hands-on in person lab Workshops, Courses, Inductions and Open Sessions will remain paused as we renew and adapt the way we work and take steps forward to move some aspects of this programme online as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

We feel hopeful that there are many elements of ASCUS’ hands-on activities that can resume over time and in the interim we are committed to carving out a space online for you, our community, to engage with our unique facility, interdisciplinary content, partners and programmes.

Thanking you for supporting ASCUS Art & Science

You can support the work of ASCUS Art & Science and its community through one-off or monthly donations via Paypal. Click the donate button on the right to offer your financial support to help us develop new ways of bringing our unique projects and content to public audiences.
We are committed to keeping your personal information confidential. We do not sell, rent, or lease your contact details to third parties. Donations processed through Paypal are subject to its privacy policy for more information please find it here.

ASCUS Lab is grateful for the support it receives from Baillie Gifford and its other project funders


March 2020 statement

We were saddened to take the necessary step to close ASCUS Lab and pause the ASCUS Lab programme on Wednesday 18th March to ensure the health and safety of our community and staff members following the UK government’s advice on the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, we have continued to monitor the complex and ever-changing situation by following UK and Scottish government updates.  The safety of our community and staff will be at the forefront of any decisions we make. Please keep an eye here on our website and social media channels for further updates. We will re-open as soon as we believe it is safe and sensible to do so.

ASCUS Lab Inductions and Open Sessions
This means our weekly Thurs and Sat ASCUS Lab open sessions, our monthly ASCUS Lab Microscopy and Microbiology Inductions, our Summer School and our membership sessions will not go-ahead for the time being. If you have booked something, we will be in touch with further information.

The 2020 Edinburgh Science Festival
We also regret to inform you that Edinburgh Science Festival have had to make the extremely difficult decision to cancel this year’s festival meaning our co-curated exhibition, Syncrasy with Summerhall will not open on Friday 3rd April and is postponed. Edinburgh Science Festival’s statement:

“Following close monitoring of the ever-changing situation regarding the global spread of COVID-19 and having held discussions with key partners, we have taken the sad but necessary decision to cancel this year’s Edinburgh Science Festival, scheduled for 4–19 April. With the Science Festival less than three weeks away and a programme of over 270 events, this has been a complex process for the organisation to manage, but the health and wellbeing of our visitors, participants and staff remains our number one priority.”

The ASCUS Team continues to work remotely behind the scenes on essential work and preparation to ensure the best experience and a safe environment for our treasured community when we reopen in the near future. We have been working on exciting new projects and growing our programme and are looking forward to sharing this with you when appropriate.

How we are responding

We are limited in our physical capacity to respond to this crisis directly on the ground. We have received requests to help with hosting COVID 19 testing facilities. Due to our focus always being public access to science,  the resultant biosafety level 1 status of ASCUS Lab has meant it is not possible to carry out COVID 19 testing and it would prove unsafe for our community in future which is our main concern

Personal Protective Equipment Donations

In May, we were delighted to donate over 100 disposable surgical gowns, PE aprons, lab coats and more from our stocks to a fantastic cause, Medical Supply Drive Scotland who are making up for the NHS shortfall in PPE equipment by gathering it from other industries. The cause was originated by a our friend and ASCUS Lab Member, artist Louise Gibson.

Promoting COVID 19 projects

We’ve been keeping our ear to the ground to support projects fighting COVID 19. We’ve been highlighting, Edinburgh Shield Force, our neighbours in Summerhall who are a volunteer team creating face shields from induction moulding. Another project we have been following the progress of and promoting is the fantastic COVID 19 testing project by Open Cell London, they have created mobile testing units in shipping containers that use robotics to perform 2400 tests in 24 hours.

Promoting Artists

We are also conscious of the effect of this health crisis on artists. We’ve been promoting projects such as the Instagram campaign, Artist’s Support Pledge. The format of the project concentrates on an ongoing ‘sales flow’ between artists and buyers.

Rethinking how we operate

We are taking this pause to rethink how we can operate and enhance our services and focus in a brave new, post COVID 19 world and how we can best serve our community.

We know this situation is causing a huge amount of worry and disruption to everyone, not least within the art world and the science community, both a huge part of what we do. We empathise greatly with everyone’s struggle and send our support, we are all in this together.

Keep safe and well.

ASCUS Art & Science