Birmingham to Host World Festival of Theatre for Young Audiences in 2016

Birmingham has been chosen as the host city for the World Festival of Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) in July 2016. The International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People, ASSITEJ, voted overwhelmingly at the 18th World Congress in Warsaw last week to hold the 2016 Festival in Birmingham. This will be the first time the festival will have been held in the UK.

The World Festival of Theatre for Young Audiences, entitled ON THE EDGE, will be produced by TYA UK and TYA Ireland and will showcase the best theatre for children and young people from across the UK, Ireland and the rest of the world. Taking place over 9 days from 2 - 10 July 2016, the festival will present performances, workshops, seminars and events in theatres and venues across the city with Birmingham Repertory Theatre as the main festival hub. The festival is expected to attract over 400 international visitors from 50 countries.

The programme will be selected by Purni Morell, who is also Artistic Director of The Unicorn Theatre.

"I'm very excited to be given this platform to bring together some of the best shows for children from across the globe. It's going to be a particular pleasure doing this in Birmingham, and offering local young people the chance to connect with what's happening in their city, in the home nations of the UK and linking that in with what is happening all over the world."

Nina Hajiyianni, Artistic Director of Action Transport Theatre and Chair of TYA UK said: "The World Festival of Theatre for Young Audiences will celebrate the amazing and diverse work being produced by professional theatre companies across the globe. It will play an important role in raising the status and profile of TYA in the UK and Ireland, promoting the importance of art made especially for children, as audiences now, here and across the world".

Philip Hardy, Artistic Director of Barnstorm Theatre and Chair of TYA Ireland also added: "This is such an important opportunity and a landmark in the development of theatre for young audiences on this side of the world. TYA Ireland is delighted to collaborate with our colleagues in the UK in delivering ON THE EDGE: Birmingham 2016 that will offer companies, artists and organisations the opportunity to interrogate and celebrate the vast richness of practice in these islands alongside practitioners from throughout the world".

Birmingham has a great reputation for hosting world events from the G8 Summit to Eurovision and the Lions Club International Convention which attracted 25,000 visitors to the Diamond League World Athletics. Councillor Ian Ward, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council welcomes the announcement:

"I am pleased to extend a warm welcome to this festival of world class theatre made especially for young audiences, which I am sure will create a real sense of celebration in the city and its wider region.

Birmingham has a clear ambition to become an established Festivals City, enhancing its reputation as an international cultural destination. With our youthful population (the youngest of any major European city), this will be a great opportunity to engage local young people both as audiences, and in the planning and delivery of the event, as well as showcasing Birmingham as a centre of excellence for young people's arts."

Alan Davey, Chief Executive of Arts Council England said: "At the Arts Council we are committed to supporting work created by, with and for young people, believing passionately in the value of immersion in the arts from an early age. It will be a great pleasure to see this internationally acclaimed Festival in Birmingham in 2016. I am sure that it will showcase work of the very highest quality and inspire young people to engage and make more theatre."

ASSITEJ is a global organisation of theatre and performance for young audiences, with networks, artists and companies from over 80 countries. It was formed in 1965 with the mission to unite theatres, organisations and individuals throughout the world dedicated to theatre for children and young people. www.assitej-international.org

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