23,000 enjoy Birmingham’s first family arts festival

Eleven city cultural organisations participate in first national event.

Over 23,000 children and adults enjoyed a huge range of music and arts events in Birmingham during the city’s first co-ordinated family arts festival. Eleven of the city’s principal arts and cultural organisations participated in the first ever UK-wide festival of family friendly arts events taking place over the October half-term holiday with music, theatre, film, art, dance, story-telling, workshops and activities designed for families to explore.

Highlights included Birmingham Hippodrome’s first family sleepover, inspired by the National Theatre’s War Horse, and Illuminate, a weekend of unique light sculpture, fire dancing and building projections.  Town Hall and Symphony Hall presented Mr Big Plays Jazz with live illustrations from Ed Vere accompanied by the Neil Cowley Trio, as well as prehistoric fun from Dinosaur Zoo and a visit from illustrator Lydia Monks.

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and children’s author Michael Rosen offered an interactive guide to the orchestra alongside music to well-known stories from Harry Potter to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s Open House Theatre for Babies introduced a new generation to the delights of theatre.  There were special activities and performances at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery’s exhibition A Squash and a Squeeze: Sharing Stories with Julia Donaldson, and a range of events – from music and story making to animation, creative writing and textiles workshops – hosted by mac Birmingham, Ikon Gallery and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.

The Library of Birmingham’s Young Readers week-long festival included Gigglefest, Teenage Readers Day and Book Bash Day plus four Young Readers events at community libraries, and at BBC Birmingham Public Space visitors were invited to design a new tie for BBC Midlands Today’s Nick Owen as part of The Big Draw.

Campaign Manager for the Family Arts Campaign, Alastair Tallon, commented: “The first Family Arts Festival has been a huge success with over 1900 events happening all over the country and a fantastic variety of events in Birmingham that families could attend together. We hope that arts organisations across the UK will continue to deliver exceptional family events and activities throughout their own programmes, and, with plans already underfoot for the Family Arts Festival 2014, there is a lot to look forward to.”