Children’s Festival refocuses

With a programme of 15 international productions, nearly a hundred Scottish artists performing at the Family Day and over 90% of schools tickets already booked, the 2020 Edinburgh International Children's Festvial was shaping up to be a real success - until the Covid-19 pandemic led us to cancel the Festival. However efforts quickly re-focused on supporting the artists and finding innovative ways to deliver the programme.

Several partners around the world shared incredible performances and events online, some brand new and created during lockdown, including colleagues at the Vancouver International Children's Festival and the Sydney Opera House – who presented The Great Illusionist. One of the highlights of this first online festival was A Piece of You - a live intimate and interactive performance for up to three people at a time; a private concert for a child and their family. Award-winning performance artist, cellist and composer Greg Sinclair turned the thoughts and feelings of his small audience into their very own music score played on his cello.

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Besides an online performance programme, the first Digital Delegate Encounters connected over 600 industry professionals over two days, for a series of conversations, networking events and social dances for the children’s theatre sector full of honesty, energy and inspiration. "The conversation tonight expressed such lateral and creative thinking – a totally inspiring team and a really amazing way to kick off the digital program!" (Mary Harvey, Arts Centre Melbourne).

And the festival period saw the launch of a special Ideas Fund to support artists and give them new opportunities to create work to occupy and inspire children and families isolated at home. Many of these projects were premiered live online during what would have been festival time and many are still up online, including:

  • Granny Fenella: Christine Urquhart and Zoe Bullock tell the story of Granny Fenella over a series of three animated films which give children suggested activities to do at home
  • Outside my window I see: Alice Cooper has made a short film that combines the voices, stories and artworks of young people from Edinburgh, the Isle of Iona and Kolkata, India answering the question 'What do you see outside your window?'
  • Fort Building: Niamh O’Loughlin has created five different den-building films - from a cave to a disco, a tent to a castle – to help children create their own fort at home

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If you would like to know more about the Festival, check out the online archive – 30 years of the UK’s top performing arts festival for children and young people.

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