Some 15,700 attended the 19th Baboró International Arts Festival for Children over the course of the week-long festival, which ended last Sunday. This year’s festival came with a promise to ‘do your heart good’ and the rich and varied programme made sure of that. With shows catering for babies right up to ages 15, this year’s festival featured beautifully imaginative and inspiring shows from Ireland as well as Canada, the Ukraine, Italy, Belgium, and Spain.
The festival highlights did not disappoint with the highly anticipated world premiere of CoisCéim’s The Wolf and Peter mesmerising audiences at the Town Hall Theatre, while young and old alike delighted in seeing the much-loved story Guess How Much I Love You come to life on stage. Other highlights included Baboró’s Happy Heart Zone which saw more than 1,000 children and adults engage in creative engagement workshops, led by artists Deirdre Rogers and Orla Kelly in association with ReCreate Ireland. There was even some action off-stage when the crazy clowns from the show Paper World went walkabout and surprised passersby on Shop Street with their hilarious antics.
“We were thrilled with the response to this year’s festival, both from schools and from the general public,” said Aislinn Ó hEocha, executive artistic director of the festival. “It was such a joy to witness the awe and wonder on children’s faces throughout the week. I’d like to thank our audiences, our artists, funders, and our sponsors for their support. And the festival wouldn’t happen without our technical crew and staff, and our incredible team of over 40 volunteers who ensured a wonderful Baboró experience for everyone.”
The festival saw increased interest from schools with 5,708 pupils attending festival shows and 723 children taking part in free workshops as part of the ‘Make a Day Of It’ programme. Classes ranged from junior infants right up to transition year, with schools travelling from as far away as the Aran Islands and Mayo. Some 212 special needs schoolchildren attended events and Baboró’s wide reach and appeal saw a bumper attendance during the final weekend with families visiting from all over Ireland.
This year’s programme also offered a series of professional development workshops for art and play therapists as well as for teachers, with more than 70 people taking part. Creative activities in the classroom play an important role in encouraging creativity and imagination in young people and are a valued part of the festival programme.
NUI Galway students on the BA Connect attended a significant number of festival events and workshops as part of their module entitled ‘The Value of Arts and Aesthetics in the Early Life of Children’. Baboró has developed and delivered this module in conjunction with Dr Cormac Forkan, programme coordinator of the BA youth and family studies degree course at NUI Galway, since 2013. NUI Galway students were also in attendance from the BA with children’s studies degree as part of their children and the creative arts module, and from the BA in drama and theatre studies degree as part of their theatre for children and young audiences module. Baboró’s artists and delegates accounted for approximately 200 bed nights during the festival with delegates visiting from as far afield as Singapore, Australia, and the Netherlands
Plans are already under way for next year with organisers encouraged by the very positive feedback from this year’s festival. Following strong demand for tickets, organisers would like to remind schools and parents to avoid disappointment by booking as early as possible when next year’s festival comes around.
Baboró’s Culture for Schools initiative was made possible thanks to the generosity of businesses and individuals who sponsored schools to attend the festival. Organisers hope to build on this year’s success to make Culture for Schools a significant part of the festival’s support for schools in the future.
The festival’s free events were a huge success with the very colourful and interactive exhibition, A History of Play, running at Galway Arts Centre until October 31 for anyone who may have missed it during the festival.
Baboró International Arts Festival for Children would like to acknowledge the continued support of The Arts Council and Galway City and County councils.