Baboró International Arts Festival for Children turns 25 this year and will be celebrating its silver anniversary in style with six premieres of work by Irish artists; seven new commissions, and young people co-creating many of the events.
The festival runs from Monday October 4 to Sunday 17, with a wealth of events for all ages, in all artforms, taking place in Galway city and county, in theatres, on streets, in schools, in bookshops, in a van, on walls, on beaches, on the airwaves, and online.
Some of the cream of Galway talents will perform at the festival, including Little John Nee, Brú Theatre, Branar, and Moonfish Theatre, along with Baboró artists in residence, Judith Higgins and Miquel Barceló.
The rights and voices of children
Aobhlín Flynn (age nine ) and Mícheál Barceló (age 12 ), with Baboró executive artistic director, Aislinn Ó hEocha, flying the flag for Baboró at 25. Photo:- Andrew Downes
Judith and Miquel have been involved in one of the flagship events of Baboró 2021, with Flying The Flag. Created with children from across County Galway, this festival commission will be an outdoor filmed performance celebrating freedom of expression and an acknowledgement of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which champions a vision of access to the arts for all children - a founding principle of Baboró.
Also watch out for the large mural in Galway city centre by the internationally-recognised street artist Emmalene Blake. The idea for this work stemmed from creative associate, Phillida Eves, asking Galway children to share their feelings about their rights, and to imagine what life would be like without art and culture. Their reflections will inspire Emmalene’s artwork.
The Covid-19 pandemic is still with us, and despite the wider re-opening of society, many health guidelines remain in place and essential to follow. With this in mind, Baboró artist in residence, Maisie Lee has created Don’t Forget to Wash Your Hands: Children’s experiences of the Covid-19 Pandemic, a poignant, thought-provoking, yet entertaining audio documentary, where more than 100 children will express their thoughts, feelings, and experiences of the pandemic.
Theatre and dance
Branar Téatar do Pháistí, one of the leading theatre companies making work for children in Ireland, will present the premiere of Rothar. In a little bike shop at the end of town, a world of adventure awaits two boys, performed by Miquel Barceló and Moisés Mas García.
Dare you venture into the Underworld and save Uncle Petey? This is the question posed to sisters Alex and Nicky by Moonfish Theatre in their audio journey, Into The World Within - a magical, musical, world of enchanting adventure the whole family will enjoy.
The Veiled Ones, by critically-acclaimed dance theatre company Junk Ensemble, explores witches, transformations, and the powerful relationship between a grandparent and grandchild. Loosely based on Roald Dahl’s The Witches, the audience is invited on a journey through intricately designed rooms, with a cast of internationally acclaimed dancers, local young performers, and live musicians.
James Riordan, the artistic director of Galway’s Brú Theatre, has been a lifelong fan of Baboró, and this year Brú will present the premiere of it’s new show, The Libravian.
The show’s main character, Lynn, a big haired, book-reader, story enthusiast, and obsessive catalogue, who does not mind a bit of laughter in the library. With her, audiences will explore themes of courage and identity, and brilliant books from Irish authors through big-hearted physical comedy.
A work by Niamh Sharkey.
The Cornstore Mall will be the venue for a pioneering exhibition exploring the realm of visual art as a place for young people to develop and understand their rights. Entitled Viewpoints, this exhibition will feature seven world renowned Irish picture book artists - Fatti Burke, Peter Donnelly, Chris Judge, Roisin Hahessy, Chris Haughton, Mary Murphy, and Niamh Sharkey. All have been commissioned by The Glucksman to respond to different themes in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Our Day Out is a series of paintings by Jennie O’Connell - known for her paintings and drawings of nostalgic, relatable, and colourful scenes for children - inspired by the notion of a joy-filled city offering every kind of attraction and amusement. In this exhibition of watercolour and digital paintings, children will see a fantastic parade to an aquarium where you can snorkel with sharks, and a huge ferris wheel you could go on with your granny.
A work by Peter Donnelly from the Viewpoints exhibition.
Baboró will also ensure that art experiences are accessible to all children, via The Wonder Project, by Phillida Eves, is a creative residency in an additional needs school.
The Libravian, Our City Walls, Rothar, Our Day Out, Into The World Within, Don’t Forget To Wash Your Hands, and The Veiled Ones, are all Baboró commissions. All these works, bar The Veiled Ones (which premiered at Dublin Fringe Festival, who co-commissioned the piece with Baboró and Cork Midsummer Festival for TRACKS Network ), will premiere as part of Baboró 25.
“This year we celebrate a quarter of a century since Baboró’s founders took the bold step to plant a flag in the sand in the West of Ireland declaring the importance of children’s arts in Galway,” said Aislinn Ó hEocha, executive artistic director of Baboró [pictured above]. “That decision has resulted in almost a quarter of a million children engaging with the festival over 25 years and has inspired artists and companies from Galway and beyond to dedicate their lives to making work for children.
“I am so proud to include some of those artists' new work in this year's festival where we will gather again in theatres, galleries, outdoors, in classrooms, around radios, and online to enjoy stories that will transport us to the four corners of our imaginations, and beyond.”
To ensure equality of access to the arts for all schools and children, the cost of participating in the festival is subsidised by Baboró with funding from the Arts Council of Ireland, Galway City Council and supporters such as Medtronic - exclusive sponsor of Baboró’s Creative Connections strand and 25th anniversary.
For the full programme and for information on booking and tickets see Baboro.ie