Northern Festivals Network Forms

A consortium of festivals has formed in the North of England, focusing on high quality engaging family programming.

Determined to raise the bar of family programming across greenfield festivals Just So Festival, Kendal Calling and Ramsbottom Festival have joined forces, enabled through support from the Arts Council Strategic Touring Fund.

The variety of award-winning festivals represented in the Northern Festivals Network illustrates the growing number of families that attend both large and small festivals regularly.

As Sarah Bird, director of Just So Festival said, “We believe that the family arts programming should be just as inspiring and engaging as what’s on the main stage. Not only that but it’s a great opportunity to engage families who don’t necessarily think that the arts are for them, surprising them with aerial theatre, magnificent light installations, immersive walkabout.”

“In this way…” David Agnew, director of Ramsbottom, continues “…we’re looking to push the boundaries of what people think of as standard family arts programming. Highlighting high quality artists putting on work which will absorb a whole family.”

In 2014 programming toured included, Walk The Plank’s magnificent light carousel “Shadowplay”, a bonkers vaudeville family show by Les Enfants Terrible titled “Imaginary Menagerie”, the gravity-defying aerial show “Something to Hold by Pif-Paf theatre and lantern workshops and parades held by Fi Smith Arts. All of which were a roaring success with families stretched across the North.

Activity by NFN has also involved pioneering Family Arts Programming and shared understanding through talks at The Association of Festival Organisers and in house knowledge sharing.

The consortium is just set to expand to include a number of festival associates, who will also benefit in a touring programme.