EU National Institutes for Culture - EUNIC


Harvesting Young Creativity
Panel: "Why Do We Need Festivals? How to stay innovative in the world of children’s festivals?" Photo: Loreen Katherine
llustration workshop for children with the Polish artist and graphic designer Piotr Socha. Photo: Loreen Katherine
Opening Worlds: How to further engage with the local community? Reach versus Depth of Impact with artists and experts Filu Sampé, Justinas Vancevicius, Inna Siemicz, and Veerle Kerckhoven. Moderated by Belinda McElhanney, Chief Executive of Imaginate. Photo: Loreen Katherine

Harvesting Young Creativity supported Young at Art - an independent children's festival focused on performing arts in Belfast, through a series of parallel activities with the aim to inspire, foster and support the development of young creative talents.

During the 10 day festival (3-12 March 2023), the project brought together and connected visionary festival leaders from Europe with local (Northern Ireland) counterparts in round tables to discuss and share knowledge, strategies, successful case studies and address challenges faced by festivals today, especially in unfunded areas. Additionally, the project brought EU performing artists and theatre companies to Northern Ireland to connect and engage with local primary schools and create and deliver various workshops tailored to the children’s needs, aiming to inspire, foster and support the development of young creative talents. The project also borught numerous artistic interventions (varying from choir singing to installation and puppet or object theatre performances) by local and EU artists, to the festival venues, aiming to facilitate and enrich the children's experience of the festival.

The festival's activities included panel discussions with artists and experts on how to engage with the local community and how to stay innovative in the world of children's festivals, workshops with artists and graphic designers on crafting and illustration, as well as a choir performance by the North Belfast Youth Choir.

Outcomes and impact

The festival was overall very successful with families and children attending from local communities and beyond. Free participation in workshops and attendance to performances was made possible through community tickets funding. Local artists and theatre companies reached through British Council Northern Ireland have attended the industry events (show previews, reception & networking events at the Lyric Theatre). Furter events like group dinners, coffee breaks and group show previews allowed participants to socialize, connect, exchange ideas and discuss common issues. Another outcome of the festival is that strong connections and partnerships were created, networks and opportunities for Children Arts Festival to work together internationally with other Youth Festivals. The North Belfast Youth Choir had had the opportunity to perform in front of an audience / empowering those young people to become active as citizens and created the opportunity for their voices to be heard. At the end of the festival, feedback was collected through online questionnaires and through one-to-one interviews with partners.

Challanges and learnings

The panel discussions and workshops both were very successful, with high attendance and addressing current issues, included a variety of speakers. This enabled rich discussions and knowledge exchange. The panels were well chosen with great international input and there was a good balance between artists and their roles within festival delegations, festivals organisers, directors and programmers. As a learning for the future, the project noted to also include young people on some of the panels where appropriate to represent themselves and also include more talks about diversity and representation on stage and in the audience. In terms of other learnings for the cluster – seeing the impact the project had at the local communities the project team noted that it is very important continue working with local organisations, responding to their needs and priorities and doing more projects outside London. The partners also saw the value and importance of working collaboratively with a network of European partners rather than individually with some European organisations and are keen on expanding this partnership.


I found the panel discussions and industry sharing to be incredibly insightful, as they prompted me to rethink the value of arts and festivals, and consider how we can best deliver high-quality arts to young people while also engaging them in meaningful ways. I left feeling inspired to explore new approaches to arts education and programming.

Anonymous, from participant evaluation

Inspiring panels, rich programme of performing events, wide range of great venues, dedication and creativity of the team. Met wonderful people with whom I hope to work in the future.

Justinas Vancevicius, Children’s World, Lithuania

Co-funded by the European Union Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.