Young at art: Edinburgh International Children's Festival
- Kelly Apter
- 26 February 2019
Reflecting upon some new opportunities available thanks to 2018's Year of Young People
From a humble tent in Inverleith Park to an internationally-renowned event with global appeal, the Edinburgh International Children's Festival has grown exponentially since 1990. Much like the young audience members who first visited it, the festival has matured, explored new horizons, and increased in size. Others now look up to it for guidance. Although delegates from the theatre world are an important part of the festival's audience, they are by no means the biggest.
Family audiences make up a significant number while over 50% of tickets are sold to schools, which is one of the reasons director Noel Jordan likes to involve young people in the programming process. Each year, he escorts a team of 10 to 15-year-olds to see shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, helping them pick a favourite for the next Edinburgh International Children's Festival. The Year of Young People 2018 may have come to an end, but the legacy of those events lives on inside the hearts and minds of those who took part in them. The impact of this cannot be underestimated, just as a visit to the Edinburgh International Children's Festival can have resonance long after audiences leave the theatre.
'I truly believe there's nothing quite like the experience of viewing theatre for the first time and having a deep connection to what you see, hear and feel,' says Jordan. 'Experiencing the performing arts communally as a family provides the opportunity for discussion and shared memories. And I love our focus on schools, which helps us offer a formative arts experience to a diverse range of children from different backgrounds.' With this, its 30th instalment, the festival will once again hand audiences a lens through which to view the world in all its glory and complexity.
'Each year, the companies we present are responding to contemporary life,' says Jordan. 'In 2019 we'll have works that explore the joy of the natural world, perennial themes such as friendship, and stories that champion the perspective of young people as active agents in their own lives. I'm always delighted to look across the 15 productions that comprise the festival and see the wealth and diversity of work we offer audiences. Thirty festivals strong: that is an achievement to celebrate!'
Edinburgh International Children's Festival, various venues, 25 May–2 Jun.