Enhancing family experience

Audience Development

To complement the family-oriented programming, many festivals organised activities to further enhance the family experience.

Many Without Walls shows are well suited to family audiences. Shows of this nature were programmed by ATN partners to ensure that this segment of the community is catered for.

Appetite took accessible, family-friendly shows into the heart of areas of low engagement, to places popular with families such as shopping centres. Taking place prior to the main festival, and with promotional support from the local radio station, the Big Feast Taster Tour gave audiences the opportunity to sample bite-sized arts projects and to find out more about The Big Feast and the work of Appetite. Outdoor shows were integral to this scheme with Wet Picnic taking their show The Lift to the heart of local communities.

In 2016 Plunge Boom delivered a Vegetable Nannies baby workshop at Key Feste in Peterborough, which engaged with 200+ young children and their parents as part of Key Feste.

In 2016 and 2017, Appetite continued their Big Feast Taster Tour in different areas.

In 2018 SO Festival set up a family programming space around Tower Garden, offering families a safe space in the centre of the festival. They also worked with Desperate Men to run workshops with local communities, culminating in a ‘reverse parade’ – the SOuvenir walk around Skegness. The walk included mini-performances by Desperate Men and locations that participants had highlighted in the workshops previously. A video of the walk was created by a young video artist.

Other festivals took a different approach to enhancing the family experience by making improvements to the festival facilities or site. SO Festival, East Lindsey, created a designated area featuring family friendly activities such as arts and crafts, games, a picnic area, and with plenty of Ambassadors on hand to provide information on the programme and engage audiences in conversation.

Appetite’s digital and disability ambassador Karl returned to film interviews with artists and Appetite introduced BSL interpretation for two of their family shows.

Creative community-led workshops have proven successful in incorporating home-grown arts and crafts within the site dressing and visual aesthetics of festival spaces. Site Dressing Workshops Great Yarmouth Out There Festival, Great Yarmouth, offered creative décor-making workshops as an afterschool activity in St George’s Park. Participants created individual décor items and contributed to group pieces that were then installed around the workshop area for the week and into the park for the weekend. The workshops were accessible to both parents and children and were a good way for families to participate in creative activities together. Many of the participants were excited to know that their work would be on display during the festival, and went on to attend the festival, seeking out their creations.

Without Walls supported a flag installation to feature as part of SO Festival, with flags being created by people of all ages from schools and community groups across East Lindsey. Working with Infinite Arts, local groups made hand-painted bunting featuring designs such as the iconic clock tower in Skegness, as well as Tibetan style ‘Wish Flags’ showing what they wish for the world. Fifty large banners were created to reflect communities in Horncastle, Louth, Alford, Woodhall Spa, Mablethorpe, Spilsby and Skegness in celebration of the festival.

Bradford Festival Bradford Festival’s Ambassador Coordinator delivered a series of workshops in community centres and schools across the district. The diverse range of workshops included: Music production and recording workshops for European and Roma migrant communities at The Joshua Project Workshops at The Inclusion Project, for young people with special needs Street Dance workshops with a local Church community centre Free-running workshops with young people at Buttershaw Youth Club Mentoring support for two music groups at Belle Vue Girls’ School, who went on to perform at Bradford Festival and on the main stage at the Urban Festival These local engagement projects and workshops gave young people the opportunity to participate in creative activities, contribute to the festival programme and in some cases supported young people to perform at the festival. This made the festival much more relevant to their friends and families and helped to make the programme more attractive to target audiences. As a result of this work, 79 workshop participants went on to attend the festival, 41 of whom were attending for the first time.

Blackpool’s LeftCoast commissioned a series of ‘Whipper Snapper’ workshops which took place in children’s centres, teaching the key skills and techniques of photography. The aims of the project were to engage young people in the art of photography, building confidence, encouraging communication and fostering creativity in the process. The Whipper Snapper workshops were run by Blackpool-based photographers Jill Reidy and Claire Griffiths, in the run-up to the Spare Parts Festival. The weekly workshops each focussed on a different topic, which culminated in an exhibition, curated by the young people, at The Mount Pavilion in Fleetwood, where their photographs of the Tram Sunday event were displayed. The photographs were uploaded onto the Whipper Snappers blog and Facebook page, for friends and family to see. The blog and Facebook page will continue on as a creative legacy of the project.

In 2016, supported by Wild Rumpus, Appetite ran site dressing workshops with community groups in the run-up to the Festival. During the festival, Appetite introduced an activity tent where they ran a number of engagement activities particularly aimed at families, including its Big Feast Bingo scheme

In 2017, Freedom Festival delivered four engagement sessions in shopping centres, outside of Hull City Centre, where tomato seeds and family-targeted print were distributed, encouraging families to return to the festival with their grown plants.

In 2016, SO Festival worked with Infinite Arts to develop artist-led workshops targeted at school and community groups. The workshops took place on the beach and in community spaces, creating the architecture of the festival’s family spaces.

In 2017, SO Festival worked with artist Emma Wee to run workshops with young people to design activities for the festival family space which they also dressed together. The young people managed the family space during the events.

“What a fantastic opportunity for youngsters to get that step onto the creative ladder – and for that to be such fun and relevant to where they live has been just amazing. I truly hope that this is just the very start of this workshop and it goes on to be even bigger because if so I can honestly see amazing young talent nurtured and emerging from our coast.” Parent of Whipper Snapper Participant

Families and younger adults were Preston City Council’s target audiences. The aim was to address low levels of engagement with the arts among Preston’s population and to change their attitudes to make them more open to paying to attend the festival.

In 2016, Preston City Council staged a procession of light, to increase engagement with families, young adults, and local Black, Asian and ethnically diverse communities. This was perceived as a spectacular highlight of the festival. Pre-event workshops engaged target audiences with making lanterns which featured in the procession.

In 2017 Preston took a more strategic approach and recruited two audience development posts to support them with their activities. As 2017 was an ‘off-year’ five Taster Tour events were programmed to engage with audiences from April to August as well as delivering three large engagement activities: Trespass Light Projection, a joint commission with Light Up Lancaster, working with artists and community groups to create a unique, large scale participatory light work; a County-wide community Choir, which alongside the projection work performed at Brief Encounter in September and Light Up Lancaster in November; and a choreographed puppet performance at Brief Encounter, which was the result of a collaboration between several local organisations, artists and young Black, Asian and ethnically diverse participants.

In 2018, Preston City Council recruited a part-time Support Outreach worker to oversee their community procession on the Festival Sunday. Further, they engaged More Music Morecambe to establish a Community Choir, reflecting the diversity of the whole county. To achieve these goals, workshops were held across Lancashire. 14 workshops and two open rehearsals took place for the choir, engaging 230 participants in total. For the parade, 25 sessions were held with over 520 participants. As in 2017, Preston City Council also programmed WW shows during their Egg Rolling at Easter to start spreading the word for their main Lancashire Encounter Festival in September.

The main aim of the festival was to revitalise Peterborough city centre and bring people in as a driver for economic development. The city has a very diverse and young population, with 25% having been born outside of the UK, and 33% under the age of 25. The festival aimed to engage these diverse and young audiences with the festival.

Across the duration of the project, Vivacity ran community site dressing workshops, making festival flags with local communities. In the first year, these workshops were held in local family centres and community groups, and in 2018 they worked with refugee and migrant women. In addition to these workshops, Vivacity delivered artist preview opportunities and workshops during the festivals. In 2016, a group of young people were involved in designing banners and bus adverts with a graphic designer in the lead up to the festival.

In 2018, Vivacity included family craft workshops as well as quiet areas for families and audiences with access requirements.

During a successful pilot project in 2013, Birmingham Hippodrome worked in partnership with Arts Connect and ASCEL (Association of School and Education Librarians) to develop a new Library Scheme for the West Midlands by initiating new partnerships with three library services – Telford & Wrekin, Staffordshire and Worcestershire. Libraries in each of these areas became cultural hubs, actively promoting attendance at Birmingham Hippodrome’s Summer in Southside events. Each library hosted a free fun cultural day out (with transport provided) to the events in Birmingham, prior to which they hosted a cultural workshop led by one of the Without Walls companies.

Creative making workshops were delivered by Graeae Theatre Company, in a local deaf college with children who made small puppets of the Iron Man using recycled objects and then came to see the performance. In 2014, the second phase of this project commenced with continued support from Arts Connect and ASCEL. Key elements of this second phase included increased audience participation and engagement through new partnerships with additional libraries across the West Midlands, and an increase in the artistic offer for library visitors.

Over an eight-month period, participants attended two outdoor festival events in Southside Birmingham, created and produced by the Birmingham Hippodrome, and also had the opportunity to take part in artistic workshops delivered by regional artists within their local libraries. By the third and final year of the project, 14 libraries were involved in the Library Engagement Scheme. Overall engagement with the workshops was strong, and those who attended the festival on the coaches came away with an enhanced perception of Birmingham as a cultural place.

In 2017, Appetite worked with the National Literacy Trust to deliver a programme of literacy and storytelling events in Children’s Centres and libraries in the run-up to and during the Big Feast weekend, as well as a dance workshop with artists.

In 2016 Working with local organisation Wavemaker, Appetite ran five site dressing workshops with BME community groups.

Across the three years of the project, Leicester City Council worked with The Spark Arts for Children, who delivered workshops to engage with children and young people. Taking Les Enfants Terribles’ Marvellous Imaginary Menagerie as a stimulus for artistic activity in 2016, Spark organised a series of workshops led by a visual artist where participants created animal figures and paintings which featured as part of the festival. The workshops took place across four libraries in and around Leicester in the lead up to the City Festival.

In 2017, they took Highly Sprung’s Urban Astronaut as inspiration for their workshops led by a visual artist where participants created space-themed objects out of recycled materials which featured as part of the festival. The workshops took place across six libraries in and around Leicester in the lead up to the City Festival, as well as hosting a session next to the performance site on two of the festival dates.

In 2018, The Spark took a broader approach, using the overall WW programme as the starting point. They organised a series of workshops led by a walkabout act Mischief Inc who delivered performances and participatory interventions to engage families in creative conversations and activities. The workshops took place across five libraries and six other locations frequented by families, in and around Leicester, as well as hosting a session next to the performance site on one of the festival dates. Mischief Inc also had an online presence.

“It was lovely to have brought a whole range of age groups together and seeing them all enjoy themselves. On the coach hearing all the chatter about how much they had enjoyed the different performances was a joy.” Audience Member