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How performing arts engages young audiences forms two day event ‘Vital Spark Symposium’


How performing arts engages young audiences forms two day event ‘Vital Spark Symposium’

The landmark two-day event is set to challenge the Performance for Young Audiences (PYA) sector to reshape its traditional approach and become truly relevant and inclusive.

Organised by The Spark Arts for Children, an arts organisation with over twenty years of experience in commissioning and producing performance experiences that are led by diversity and innovation, the symposium will be held at the University of Leicester’s Attenborough Arts Centre, on the 13th and 14th of March.

Christopher Gorry, Artistic Director of The Spark:

“The Vital Spark Symposium in March will mark 5 years of the approach being delivered by The Spark. It’s an ethos and approach that is central to our existence as an organisation. It will be a reflective two days here in Leicester as we welcome colleagues from across the country. To have vital conversations about how we can work collaboratively to make the Performance for Young Audiences sector more relevant and Inclusive.”

The inaugural Vital Spark Symposium will be an opportunity for artists, directors, programmers, venues, practitioners, and funders to take part in challenging panel discussions and focused workshops, and view premier performances from new artists from the Vital Spark Programme. The aim of the symposium is for attendees to challenge each other to assess and develop the PYA sector in an environment that is both action-focused and supportive.

The Vital Spark Symposium will celebrate five years of Vital Spark, the UK’s flagship approach to making the Performance for Young Audiences (PYA) sector more relevant and inclusive. It is made up of an Artist Relationship Programme and Ideas Fund to create world-class cultural opportunities for artists who are currently underrepresented in the sector.

Since its inception in 2018, Vital Spark has engaged 60 under-represented artists, seed-funded 14 new ideas and delivered seven new productions which have toured the UK and internationally, including venues as far afield as The Sydney Opera House.

The programme has always aimed to change the path of the PYA sector for future generations through development and commissioning opportunities, strategic partnerships and relationship building. It is hoped that the Vital Spark Symposium will help drive new development by allowing participants to take part in open, truthful discussions and debate with peers. The Symposium is also a unique space to see new work in development and meet the latest cohort of Vital Spark artists, socialise and network with people from across the sector.

Christopher Gorry, Artistic Director of The Spark:

“There will be sharings of work from this years Vital Spark artists, discussions, learning and 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.”

Held at the University of Leicester’s Attenborough Arts Centre across two days on the 13th and 14th of March, highlights of the event include a panel Discussion: “Where are we at?” will explore the realities of independent or organisational situations in the PYA sector. Understand how current opportunities and challenges are shaping commitments to relevance and inclusivity.

Reflective workshop: “From Shared Truths, Comes Collective Courage” where attendees with participate in a facilitated reflective session. Share your truths, connect with peers, and explore how collective action can address challenges and opportunities in the PYA sector. Also Artistic Allyship: “From Courage, Comes Commitment to Action” where attendees will be invited to join us in co-creating the Vital Spark collective commitment to action, leveraging shared truths and collective courage.

The Debate: “Comfortable Quality Vs Courageous Ambition” Engage in a lively debate on the merits of Comfortable Quality versus Courageous Ambition and how each contributes to diversifying the PYA sector. Hear perspectives from a panel of ambitious industry leaders. And Let’s Talk Money: Practical Partnerships. Join Lincoln Arts Centre’s Creative and Executive Director Ben Anderson and Tanya Akrofi (relationship programme artist 2024) as they share their experience as a new Vital Spark Partner and why targeted relational investment in artists and the sector is more impactful than transactional investment.

Tickets for the two-day event start at £120 and enable attendees to participate in discussions, discover innovative projects, join workshops, engage in debates, and network with industry peers. The project is supported by Arts Council England and Arts Council Ireland.

Find out more about the full programme of events at the Vital Spark website

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