Breaking Convention Conference
I am the co-founder and co-chair of Breaking Convention, a biennial international conference on psychedelic consciousness.
It is the only one of its kind operating in Britain.
Breaking Convention is a non-profit registered charity organisation.
We had own first international conference in 2011 in Kent, UK and the second and third meetings were in London in 2013 and 2015.
Putting on this conference is a tremendous event; attracting over 800 delegates and 140 speakers from 30 countries.
Breaking Convention 2015 Gathering in London
The History of Breaking Convention
Breaking Convention 2011 grew from the seeds of three separate events. In mid 2010, Anna Waldstein and Cameron Adams were thinking about arranging a small, one-day psychedelic anthropology event at the University of Kent for less than fifty people, while in London, David Luke was chewing on the idea of putting together a psychedelics conference as an extension of his Ecology, Cosmos and Consciousness series. Dave King, a student of Anna’s, had met Ben Sessa earlier that year in San Jose, CA, at the MAPS conference in his capacity as the President of the Psychedelics Society at Kent. There, they had mused on the possibility of such a conference one day happening in the UK. Inspired by the MAPS conference, Dave and David met to discuss the possibility of merging the Kent and London meetings, and shortly afterwards Ben made contact to offer a ready-made MDMA debate, originally planned for the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Thus the four main-track symposia came into being: Anna and Cameron co-convening a track on the research happening at Kent, David chairing a session enigmatically titled ‘What Do Psychedelics Mean?’, Ben mediating the UK’s first ever public MDMA debate and Dave organizing ‘Bold Visions: The Future of Psychedelic Research & Culture’. With the addition of the parallel tracks from submitted abstracts, the total number of speakers at Breaking Convention 2011 was close to one hundred.
By 2013 the numbers had swelled to over 600 and by 2015 we were close to 950 attendees including delegates, speakers, artists, performers and press. After the 2013 meeting Anna Waldstein left the committee meeting and was replaced by Aimee Tollan. We also expanded the core crew to include further helpers to assist with the growing and diverse parts of the event. And in 2015 we were joined on the core crew committee by Nikki Wyrd.
Breaking Convention 2011 Gathering in Canterbury, UK
Breaking Convention is unlike many other academic conferences in that there is no corporate sponsorship, and so the tens of thousands of pounds needed for the event are raised through ticket sales alone. Despite this, we try to keep our prices well below that of typical academic conferences in order to keep the event as accessible to the general public as possible.
Breaking Convention conferences run for three days and features ten symposia of invited speakers, as well as breakaway rooms dedicated to presentations from submitted abstracts and workshops. Visual and performance artists have a high presence throughout the event and there is a range of live music and entertainments in the evenings.
Aimee Tollan, Dave Luke, Ben Sessa, Cameron Adams, Dave King & Nikki Wyrd
Breaking Convention website.