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‘Vital Spark’ a major arts movement for young audiences


‘Vital Spark’ a major arts movement for young audiences

The artists for a major arts movement designed to address the chronic lack of diversity in the Performance for Young Audience sector have been revealed.

Christopher Gorry, Artistic Director of The Spark:

“We are excited to announce the diverse group of artists that make up this year’s Vital Spark cohort.”

“The ambition of this year’s artists, our new partnerships and the planned Vital Spark Symposium in March is a clear sign of how much Vital Spark has evolved to be at the very core of what we do and the important role it plays in the sector internationally. We’re thankful to Arts Council England and Arts Council Ireland for recognising this, supporting its growth and the new wave of artists who are at the forefront of it.” 

Vital Spark will see nine artists from across England and Ireland take part in a transformational six-month programme of masterclasses, coaching, and mentoring and have time and space to develop brand-new ideas for shows for young audiences.  All culminating in the Vital Spark Symposium – a two-day event in March 2024.

The Symposium will invite professionals from across Performances for Young Audience sector to showcase and celebrate the achievements of the programme, now in its 5th year, as well as to discuss the ongoing development of the sector.

Vital Spark is the UK’s flagship approach to making the Performance for Young Audiences (PYA) sector more relevant and inclusive. Vital Spark is led by The Spark Arts for Children and delivered in association with Baboró International Arts Festival for Children, Inspire: Culture, Learning, Libraries, Attenborough Arts Centre & Lincoln Arts Centre.

The Artist Relationship Programme and Ideas Fund create world-class cultural opportunities for artists who are currently underrepresented in the sector. The programme aims to help change the path of the PYA sector for future generations through development and commissioning opportunities, strategic partnerships and relationship building.

The Spark Arts for Children launched Vital Spark in 2018 and since then has engaged 60 under-represented artists, seed-funded 14 new ideas and delivered 7 new productions which have toured the UK and internationally.

This year’s Vital Spark Artists include:

  • Debora Naomi Adachi, a Dublin based illustrator, children’s author and art facilitator.
  • Tanya Akrofi, a Lincoln-based writer and storyteller, heavily influenced by folklore and fairytales.
  • Sarah Blanc, a London-based dancer, choreographer, movement director and artistic director.
  • Justyna Cwojdzinska, a Limerick theatre practitioner, voice-over artist and arts festival founder.
  • Alexandra Grogan, a Dublin-based writer and co-founder of an independent theatre company.
  • Sarah ‘Rain’ Kolawole, a Nottingham-based playwright and spoken word artist.
  • Lewis Major, a Leicester-based choreographer, artistic director and creative entrepreneur.
  • HK Ní Shioradáin, a Dublin based composer, poet, lyricist and sound designer.
  • Tandeka Williams, a Derby based emerging Creative producer, Youth practitioner and Director of Mashup Derby,

Summary bios and a link to headshots appears at the end of this press release.

Vital Spark recognises that every artist is different, so each Vital Spark relationship is bespoke. The selected artists will be paid for their time to learn, develop and grow with the aim of showcasing the development of their work at March’s Vital Spark Symposium, ahead of Spark Festival which will take place in Leicester in May.

The Vital Spark Symposium aims to be unapologetic about where the Performance for Young Audience sector is and how far it needs to move to reshape traditional approaches and become truly relevant and inclusive.  Artists, directors, programmers, venues, practitioners and funders will be given the opportunity to get together and challenge each other to assess and develop the PYA sector to benefit everyone.

Christopher Gorry:

“There will be performances, there will be discussions, there will be learning and there will be socialising! These two days are a chance to celebrate the impact of Vital Spark, reflect on what should come next and collectively take action to drive the next chapter.”

The project is supported by Arts Council England and Arts Council Ireland. To find out more about Vital Spark, The Vital Spark Symposium or The Spark Arts for Children please visit or follow them @thesparkarts

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