Sexual health campaign falls limp

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A campaign to promote sexual awareness failed to take place after confusion over responsibility and organisation.

Live at LICA (Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Arts) approached Pete Macmillan, LUSU’s Vice-President (Equality, Welfare and Diversity), several weeks ago with a view to organising a sexual health awareness campaign that would tie in with Sex Idiot, an autobiographical show by Total Theatre Award winner Bryony Kimmings. Sex Idiot explicitly addresses the 29 year-old’s sexual experiences and discovery of an STI after her very first STI test last year.

Macmillan accepted, hoping that a sexual health campaign in combination with a dramatic performance that touched on the subject would effectively raise sexual health awareness among the audience present on Saturday 5 February. Prior to the show, Macmillan suggested that “having it in a theatre setting will hopefully add to its success.”

However, according to Ele Kinchin-Smith, Front of House Manager for Live at LICA, plans failed to materialise. The stall Kinchin-Smith had planned to use for the campaign was unavailable at the last minute due to a mix-up over dates. Furthermore, confusion seemed arise over responsibility and organisation for the campaign itself. Kinchin-Smith was under the impression that Macmillan had begun organising and spoken to members of the JCR about involvement: “I gathered that they were all good to go but never heard anymore – unfortunately I wasn’t aware of who the people were otherwise I could have been able to make sure they had all the details.”

Macmillan on the other hand felt that “the emphasis was shifted from the LUSU angle of sexual health to it being more about the Vagina Monologues and getting publicity out for that.” Moreover, Macmillan had thought that outside agencies were organising a sexual health campaign independent of LUSU and accordingly “eased off.” Macmillan was also unaware that the campaign hadn’t transpired, due to absence that particular weekend.

Both Kinchin-Smith and Macmillan recognise the need for a sexual health awareness campaign. Kinchin-Smith remarked: “I think sexual health awareness is incredibly important, especially in a society where even though condoms are readily available and the subject is on the whole very well promoted so many people can still remain so oblivious.” Macmillan added: “we haven’t reached out enough in the past and engaged with students.”

The show Sex Idiot was a success with the audience, consisting of a mixture of students and residents of Lancaster. Kinchin-Smith said: “The response to the show was very positive, there was a lot of laughter but also I think a real empathy with Bryony and the stories she told. She struck a lovely balance between humour and vulnerability.”

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