Artists Interviews

August 2013: Cliodhna Noonan

Baboró International Arts Festival for Children

Early Years Arts in Ireland is a recent and highly dynamic departure for both professional artists and teachers or carers of very young children. Two organizations on the island of Ireland have been involved in this process for a number of years. Both are part of the Small size, big citizen EU network for the dissemination of performing arts for the early years. Sticky Fingers in Newry (lead by chief executive Grainne Powell) and Baboró International Festival of Arts for Children in Galway (In this article an interview with Lali Morris, artistic director).

Both organizations provide an opportunity for Irish artists to be part of the process of development of the sector through access to performances and visual arts of the highest standard across Europe. International networking is the future for the sharing of practice. Both Baboro and Sticky Fingers regularly involve artists from the international early years arts scene.

Guest Editor, Cliodhna Noonan

BABORÓ International Arts Festival for Children- A Conversation with Lali Morris, Artistic Director.

(c) Baboró International Arts Festival for Children

Baboró is an arts festival in Galway that is dedicated to support the cultural rights of the child by the provision of a yearly multi arts festival , in and out of school creative intervention programmes. It also supports the development of the sector by offering training and advice plus mentoring and showcasing Irish artists and their work.

Baboró is a partner of the Small Size network since 2009. What has been the impact of being part of this international network?

LALI: Since becoming a partner in Small size we have had the opportunity as a Festival to bring beautiful, creative and intelligent performances for the early years to Galway. This has had a positive outcome for the area and the sector.

• Baboró has afforded Irish artists, some of whom were very established in other areas, the opportunity to view and to consider new methods of working for an early age group by first attending the shows in the early years section of the Festival. Irish companies have begun to be aware of the growth of interest in the sector and they have witnessed the local reaction to these new style performances over the years. This has enabled a few companies to question whether they themselves could examine this audience and develop their own work for this age-group.

• The increase in the booking numbers for Baboró’s Early Years section over the past few years and its confirmation that this is in high demand in the present society in Ireland have given confidence to emerging artists in Ireland to create and develop new work. This fulfills Baboró’s brief of both providing a platform for the presentation of high quality international performances to the Galway region and remaining almost a mentor organization for young Irish artists to benefit from training and development of new work through contact with the international artists while they are in Galway.

• Baboró has always seen itself as having an open door in relation to providing mentoring assistance to emerging artists. ‘We welcome the opportunity to be a part of the process of development of new work if the company wishes. In relation to early years performances in particular, we love the almost avant garde nature of the performance development. It is wonderful to watch established and emerging companies changing their perception of the rules of engagement with the process of development with this special audience of very young children and their carers.’ Baboró sees this as a chance for artists and companies to expand their own horizons and to produce highly sophisticated work in a new sector. The challenge to the artists of presenting work for this new audience can be very stimulating for the artists themselves.

• Baboró International Festival of Arts for Children itself has benefitted enormously in that our relatively modest Festival has been catapulted on to the international stage and is now a hugely popular festival of International standing.

How will membership of the Small size network assist Baboro in the future?

LALI(laughing!) : Well, nobody knows the future do they! However, all of the development in this field happens in small steps - baby steps even - in the right direction. Ireland is just starting out on this road. There is huge potential to grow into a rich and vibrant sector. We hope to see Baboró at the centre of the creation and presentation of high quality Irish work in the future.

At present there is a tangible desire out there, an engagement with the connections to the education sector and this is very exciting. More baby steps will follow.

What is happening in Newry in February and how will it assist the perception of early years arts on the island of Ireland?

The Small size network is a European project funded up to 2014. In February 2014, Sticky Fingers Arts (a UK Micro-network partner) will host the end of project showcase event .

This is a celebration of Early Years Performances from the member countries of one of the most successful EU culture networks, which will be of huge national and international interest. It is a celebration of the work that has been developed on a European level and will provide an opportunity to open a nationwide discussion on Early Years Arts in both the Education and the Artistic sectors in Ireland in the future.

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