2022 Highlights: A Brilliant, Busy Baboró Year

The end of the year is here! Amidst the December hustle and bustle, we’re taking a moment to reflect on some highlights of the year, from the pilot LEAP artist support programme to meeting our inaugural Children’s Panel and returning to a fully in-person festival for the first time since 2019.

It was a joy to reconnect with new and longtime friends and collaborators, and to see Galway’s theatres, galleries, and cultural centres overflowing with young audiences.

A Flying Start for the LEAP Artist Support Programme

In April, Baboró collaborated with Moonfish Theatre and NUI Galway to deliver LEAP, a paid workshop and community-building project for creatives from underrepresented, ethnically diverse or migrant backgrounds. Four selected artists gathered for the pilot 4 day workshop, which was focused on creating and devising theatre for young audiences. The project aimed to bridge the gap between the diversity of Ireland’s young audiences and that of the artists creating and presenting work for them.

The four participating artists, Alexandra Craciun, Fernanda Ferrari, Justyna Cwojdzińska, and Justin Anene brought different backgrounds, experiences and creative practices to LEAP. In October, we welcomed the artists to the festival to attend performances over several days and take part in a panel discussion about the pilot programme and the role of diversity in the Irish TYA sector. Participating artists and facilitators all agreed that it was a richly rewarding experience.

A Small Tale Brings Storybook Magic to Classrooms

Now in its 2nd year, Baboró’s partnership with UK charity Punchdrunk Enrichment continues to equip teachers to deliver the magical A Small Tale to their senior infants, 1st, 2nd and 3rd class students. In 2022, the project reached 11 educators and 232 children.

Participating educators attended a training session by Punchdrunk Enrichment as part of the October festival to learn how to deliver the project and use the specially created props. They are currently busy delivering A Small Tale in their classrooms with the support of Associate Artists Zita Monahan, Sorcha Ní Chróinín and Outreach Project Manager Bryony Hussey. In 2023 participants will reconnect, share their experiences and develop legacy projects specific to their pupils. We look forward to continuing the project with more educators at our next training session.

If you would like to learn more about A Small Tale or our other arts in education programmes please contact Outreach Project Manager Bry at outreach[@]baboro.ie.

RTÉ Toy Show Appeal Grant Expands Wonder Project Reach

In June, we were overjoyed to learn from the Community Foundation of Ireland that Baboró and The Wonder Project by Phillida Eves would receive a Transformative Grant from the RTÉ Toy Show Appeal. This grant will expand the work of the Wonder Project and more of Phillida Eve's and Baboró's work for children with additional needs.

The Wonder Project is an interactive, sensory experience for children with additional needs, originally commissioned by Baboró in 2021 as a week-long residency in Ábalta Special School. Live music, movement and a feast of sensory engagement lead the children to discover and explore their own stories, dance, and creativity.

This award enables Baboró to expand its mission of creating access to the arts for all children by funding the development of artistic work for children with additional needs. Thanks to the RTÉ Toy Show Appeal’s generous support, the project will tour to more schools across Ireland, and more artists will receive development opportunities.

Baboró Children's Panel Ensures Young People's Voices Are Heard

After a successful pilot Children’s Panel during the pandemic, we are delighted to continue Baboró Children’s Panel 2022 - 2023 with 4th class children from Galway city and county. The Children’s Panel plays an important role in ensuring young people’s voices are included in our planning and decision making, as we strive to make all children feel welcome at Baboró and in our community.

Baboró Children’s Panel includes 14 children who meet monthly for creative workshops with Baboró Artist in Residence Maisie Lee and Outreach Projects Manager Bryony Hussey. Shortly before this year’s festival, they took over the airwaves on Flirt FM, choosing their own music and discussion topics. Come festival time, the panel attended a number of events together, immersing themselves in exhibitions and shows, and even participating in a post-show discussion with Graffiti Theatre.

It’s been a real privilege, and such fun, to get to know this fantastic and imaginative group of children.

Don't Forget to Wash Your Hands Wins an IMRO Award

In early October, shortly before the 2022 festival, we received great news about a 2021 Baboró commission by our Residence Maisie Lee. Maisie’s radio documentary Don’t Forget to Wash Your Hands won an IMRO Radio Award, a recognition reserved for the very best in Irish broadcasting.

In making the documentary, Maisie captured the thoughts, feelings and experiences of over 100 children and young people in Galway city and county during the Covid-19 pandemic. Don’t Forget to Wash Your Hands makes for poignant listening, portraying both the highs and lows of an unprecedented period in these children’s lives.

Don’t Forget to Wash Your Hands
is available to listen to here.

2022 Marks a Return to a Fully In-Person Baboró Festival

As always, the high point of our year at Baboró came in October, when children, schools, families, and artists converged in Galway for 10 brilliant days. The 26th annual Baboró International Arts Festival for Children saw 16,873 audiences members attend more than 50 performances and events. If you attended the festival, or even if you followed along online, thank you! We hope you can join us again next October.

It was so special to be with audiences and artists in venues again, that it would be impossible to list every special and memorable moment. Here are just a few of the highlights:

A Special Focus on Early Years

You Are Here by Theatre Madam Bach

This year’s programme included a particular focus on Early Years work as we welcomed our colleagues from the Creative Europe MAPPING project, with partner companies from Italy, Denmark, and Belgium presenting works designed specifically for children aged 0-6 alongside Early Years work from Irish companies such as Branar and Graffiti: BEAG.

An Ceannairc Beag Bídeach/Tiny Mutiny Takes Galway By Storm

As part of An Ceannairc Beag Bídeach/ Tiny Mutiny, children in Connemara and Galway city proclaimed the need for a child-led cultural space in the West of Ireland. Working with local artists, each group shared their vision during the festival through boisterous protest performances accompanied by colourful banners, rebellious songs and digital projections.

An Ceannairc Beag Bídeach
was commissioned by Baboró International Arts Festival for Children, and developed by artists Jojo Hynes and Midie Corcoran, in collaboration with ATMOS Collective, Róisín Seoighe, and Laura Angell, in celebration of the Arts Council's 70th year.

The Lighthouse Project Connects Schools in Galway City and Aran Islands

Dani Gill’s The Lighthouse Project is a site-specific initiative that spans the island of Ireland. As part of this year’s Baboró programme, we partnered with The Lighthouse Project to bring visual artist Linda Fahrlin and author Sadhbh Devlin to Claddagh National School and Scoil Naisiunta Caomhain (Inis Oírr) to deliver creative workshops. The workshop series explored creative writing and printmaking inspired by the ‘flash’ or ’splanc’ emitted by lighthouses in their communities.

Specialised Work for Children with Additional Needs

Ceol Connected’s soothing multisensory production Lullaby Leaf welcomed small groups of children with complex needs to the Connacht Hotel to experience a magical, gentle performance with their carers.

Artist Phillida Eves and her team brought The Wonder Project to St. Joseph’s Special School in Galway city to engage with and empower students through creative practices over five days.

Widden Ar Geels at Galway Arts Centre Celebrates Irish Traveller Traditions and Culture

Artist Leanne McDonagh Widden Ar Geels

Visual art exhibition Widden Ar Geels, by artist Leanne McDonagh and poet Oein DeBhairduin, invited audiences to celebrate the stories and oral traditions of the Irish Traveller community in an inclusive space at Galway Arts Centre. Accompanying workshops shared Mincéir traditional crafts and folklore with families and school groups.

Festival Mentoring Programme Resumes

This October, we resumed our longstanding Festival Mentoring programme for the first time since 2019. Four artists attended the 26th annual Baboró festival as mentees, navigating the programme with seasoned mentors Phil Kingston (Community and Education Manager, Abbey Theatre) and Maria Fleming (CEO, First Fortnight). Together, participants saw a selection of performances, exhibitions, and industry panel discussions and got a chance to chat with programmed artists and international delegates.

Find out more about the artists Martina Carey, Emma Coen, Alex Gogan and HK Ní Shioradáin and their practices.

Baboró Releases Festival Talks as Podcast

This year for the first time, we recorded three festival panel discussions as podcast episodes. The engrossing conversations with artists and industry professionals explore early years arts education, sectoral sustainability and artist development, as well as diversity and inclusion in TYA.

The three podcast episodes are available to listen on baboro.ie, Spotify, and Apple.

Looking Forward to the Year Ahead

And with that, another year at Baboró has come to a close. Wishing our friends and colleagues a peaceful and happy holiday season. See you in 2023!