Just over 22,500 attended the 18th Baboró International Arts Festival for Children over the course of the nine-day festival which ended last Sunday. True to form, this year’s festival really did have something for everyone with parents, children, toddlers and babies enjoying beautifully imaginative and inspiring shows from as far away as Australia and the USA, as well as a wonderful Irish showcase.
The Spanish Arch was completely reimagined with the spectacular inflatable structure from English company, Architects of Air. The very special 18th birthday festival treat, Amococo, saw 7,000 people of all ages visit the luminarium. The stunning maze of colour brought many people back more than once while one three-year-old declared that he wanted to live there forever! A staggering 1,318 attended on the final day before it was packed up for its return trip to England. There were some treasured moments in Amococo when the choir from St. Nicholas’ Schola Cantorum broke into song, and when newly-weds, Loretta Ní Ghabháin and Ian Kenny, popped in with their bridal party to take some photos before their wedding reception at the Meyrick Hotel.
Gusts of 47kph resulted in Amococo having to close last Saturday. Organisers apologised for the Galway weather and offered a number of alternatives to those who had pre-booked tickets which included free tickets to another show, the option to transfer their tickets to the next day or arrange a refund. The organisers thanked everyone for their understanding and Amococo reopened on Sunday for the final day of the festival. Commenting on the success of Amococo, General Manager Teenagh Cunningham said:
“We were delighted to mark our 18th festival with something as special as Amococo. Above all we were thrilled with the reaction from young and old alike; it really was an experience like no other and we expect the memories will live on for a long time to come. We’d like to say a big thank you to our Amococo sponsors, Medtronic Galway, and to Galway City Council for their support.”
4,500 schoolgoers attended festival shows with classes ranging from junior infants right up to transition year, with schools coming from as far away as Inishbofin and Roscommon. 305 special needs children attended events representing seven per cent of the total schools’ audience. Organisers also noticed an increase in families visiting from outside of Galway, demonstrating Baboró’s wide reach and appeal as Ireland’s flagship international arts festival for children and their families.
The festival’s inaugural ‘Culture for Schools’ initiative saw 200 children and 21 teachers attending six Baboró events for free. This was made possible thanks to the generosity of businesses and individuals who sponsored a class to attend the festival. Organisers would like 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. In addition to this, 431 teachers and Special Needs Assistants were allocated free places during the festival and 661 children took part in free workshops and guided tours as part of the ‘Make a Day of it’ programme.
Commenting on this year’s festival, Artistic Director Lali Morris said that the event reinforced why Baboró exists.
It is here to enrich the lives of children and to encourage their curiosity and imagination. Children are full human beings at every age and it is their right to access art and culture in all its forms, here and now. It has been an absolute privilege to work with so many wonderful companies, who are creating work specifically for young audiences, and to witness the sheer awe and wonder on the childrens’ faces. ”
Thanking everyone who played a part in making the 18th Baboró Festival such a huge success, Teenagh Cunningham said that on behalf of ‘Team Baboró’, she would like to thank "all the wonderful audiences, young and old, for joining us in celebrating 18 years of Baboró in Galway. Our deepest appreciation also goes to our artists, our funders, and to our sponsors for making Baboró 2014 a very memorable nine days."
Huge thanks to our amazing technical crew, staff and volunteers who return to us year after year, and to our incredible ‘red t-shirt’ team who ensure a wonderful Baboró experience for everyone - the festival quite simply wouldn’t happen without them. We’re all looking forward to next year already!”