2023 Baboró Highlights

Is it just us or did this year pass by in a flash? For all of us at Baboró, it was a year spent working with our wonderful Children’s Panel, connecting with local artists making work for young audiences, developing new projects and relationships, and of course delivering our 27th annual festival in October.

Let’s take a look back on just a few of the highlights of 2023…

2023 Festival welcomes new and returning audiences

Our annual festival continues to be Baboró’s beating heart and the 27th Baboró International Arts Festival for Children was a treat for children and adults alike. Our audiences enjoyed attending a programme of over 50 events by artists and companies based across Ireland and the globe. Over the 10 days of the festival, 17,314 school children, families, artists and delegates were welcomed into theatres, galleries, libraries and cultural centres throughout Galway city and county.

Click here to watch our wrap video of festival highlights

Building relationships with key community partners was a priority for the outreach programme this year. We worked with 12 community partners across Galway city and county, providing 217 free tickets to families via community resource centres, charities supporting vulnerable families, and families living in direct provision. In addition to free tickets, the access programme provided subsidised transport to the festival, free accessible tours of exhibitions and Irish Sign Language interpreted events.

The volunteer programme continues to grow and strives to be diverse and inclusive. In addition to a far-reaching open call, cohorts of volunteers were recruited through direct provision centres and Arts Alive, an arts programme for adults with intellectual disabilities. 26 nationalities were represented across our festival team of 12 front of house managers, 25 stewards and 80 volunteers.

All in all, it was an ambitious and exciting year for the festival, with a focus on Australian work, commissions and co-commissions, dedicated performances designed for children with additional needs, presentation of three works from GROW programme alumni and more.

A busy year for our brilliant Children's Panel

The Baboró Children’s Panel is made up of 14 5th class children from across Galway city and county who all bring their vibrant curiosity, interests and talents to monthly meetings. Meetings are interactive and ensure children are a regular part of Baboró’s planning and decision-making. This year, they provided input into Baboró's Strategic Plan 2023-2027 before it was launched in May, as well as creating early sketches and a brief to inspire the redesign of Baboró's mascot, Birdie. They wrote and starred in a video welcoming new audiences to Baboró, attended the 2023 festival together and much more.

Click here to watch the 'Baboró is for Everbody!' video by the Children's Panel

'Creativity at the heart of every childhood'

In May, we published our Strategic Plan 2023-2027, setting out our vision for the future, our values, and our ambitions for the next five years, all whilst endeavouring to reflect the Ireland of today in our work.

GROW year round artists supports include new partnerships and opportunities

In 2023, our year round artist development programmes supported 40 artists making work for young audiences in Ireland. An additional 13 artists were supported through Meitheal, Branar’s artist support initiative of which Baboró is a partner. Along with Irish and international partners, we were pleased to offer 10 meaningful and enriching opportunities for artists based in Ireland making work for young audiences.

Within our GROW Programme, we supported artists through the ongoing Go See Fund, our annual Festival Mentoring, the one-off 'How to Begin with Finegan' writing workshop (partners: Graffiti Theatre & TYAI), and two new strands: a two-week residency at Áras Éanna Arts Centre on Inis Oírr for an artist working as Gaeilge and the Vital Spark relationship programme and Ideas Fund for underrepresented artists (partner: The Spark Arts for Children, UK). We also offered the Breaking Ground bursary for artists making work for children with additional needs (partner: Rosán Sensory Adventures), a two-year collaboration with an artist and a Galway primary school called Creating Space, workshops at international festivals through the BABEL Creative Europe project and associate artist opportunities.

Two-year Creating Space project links artist and school community

This year, we were delighted to launch Creating Space, a two-year collaboration between Baboró, Merlin Woods Primary School, and multidisciplinary artist Colm Ó Foghlú. The project will follow the same 45 children from the start of 1st class until they finish 2nd class in June 2025.

Galway Chamber Awards name Baboró ‘Business of the Year’

In late November, we were delighted to have won the 'Culture & Creativity Award' sponsored by Galway Culture Company and the 'Overall Business of the Year Award' sponsored by The Shannon Airport Group at the Galway Chamber Business Awards 2023 in association with The Shannon Airport Group. It was such an honour for Baboró, as a registered charity, to be recognised in this way by the Galway business community, all the more so because it was the first time a cultural organisation has been recognised as the 'Business of the Year' by a Chamber Awards in Ireland.

Míle Buíochas

Thank you to our audiences, young and old - children, parents and teachers; our funders, supporters, partners and collaborators; our team - Children's Panel, Board of Directors, festival team and incredible volunteers; and last but by no means least, the artists who created memorable moments during the festival. We’re so grateful to count you as part of the Baboró community. Roll on more creativity, curiosity, art and fun in 2024!

Baboró is principally funded by The Arts Council of Ireland and Galway City and County Councils. This year’s festival was supported by our Irish Language Partner, Cúla4; Literature Partner, Charlie Byrnes; A/V Partner, CUE One and Sustainable Print Partner, iSupply.