Small Wonders – taking creativity for under 5s to the great outdoors

Small Wonders image 1Some of the most innovative arts festivals in England have come together to offer groundbreaking outdoor creative opportunities for the under 5s, thanks to a new initiative and funding from Arts Council England.

Small Wonders is a commissioning consortium which aims to address the gap in outdoor arts provision for very young children.  With an initial timescale of three years, it aims to support artists in the creation of fantastic, challenging and exceptional work, resulting in beautiful performances for this age group.

Small Wonders includes: Mintfest, Kendal, Cumbria; Activate Performing Arts, Dorset; Norfolk & Norwich Festival; Hat Fair, Winchester; IF:Milton Keynes International Festival; 3 Foot People Festival, Chelmsford (Chelmsford Borough Council); and Fuse Medway Festival (Medway Borough Council).  The new outdoor performances will tour each of these events from May 2012.

Says Kate Hazel, Director of Alchemy Productions, “Arts for the under 5s have been flourishing indoors for a number of years but there’s still very little opportunity for this age group to see and enjoy real outdoor performance work.  We want to develop a new generation of artists and companies that are confident working in the outdoors and with the early years sector.”

She continues, “Most of the participating festivals have experience of working with children over 5 and their families.  Very often small siblings tag along but don’t really engage as they’re too young.  By offering this new dimension we can open up lots of new opportunities for learning and shared experience for the very youngest of our audiences.”

Arts Council England’s Director for the South West, Phil Gibby said, “There are few really high quality opportunities for early years children to experience outdoor arts, and this project aims to fill that gap by taking some of the excellent indoor work to outdoor venues. Small Wonders promises to engage young children and their families in high quality arts events and help to make them into the audiences of the future.”

As well as commissions to produce the work, the project will provide a number of professional development and training opportunities for artists to support the ongoing delivery of exceptional and memorable performances for young audiences.

For more information about Alchemy Productions visit: http://www.alchemyproductions.co.uk

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