10-Year Symposium Blog

The recent 10-Year symposium was a fun-filled and thought-provoking celebration of a whole decade of achievements by the Big Imaginations Network. Not only was it a space for reflection and celebration, but also a space for future planning and proactive problem-solving.

The day was kicked started by Nina Hajiyianni’s (Artistic Director of Theatre Porto) expression of the importance of connection, collaboration and joy in the world of children’s theatre. Followed by Zoe Pickering (Big Imaginations Manager) presenting some of the highlights and stats from the first 10 years of the network, not forgetting a happy birthday to us singalong, with a rather fabulous cake!


Sarah Emmott, from Art With Heart, then offered us a glimpse into the future. A future where the North is its own state, where creativity, accessibility and sustainability reign supreme and children/young people are given the proper platform to have their voices heard and have their contributions shape society.


“That there is so much joy in our sub-sector - we just need to shout about it more!”


We had a mixture of discussion and practical sessions throughout the rest of the day that all focused on a different topic within the field of children’s theatre. They were:


Our Future Together – Looking at the sustainability of the sector and how we move forward making work, while addressing the problems that are preventing us from doing so.


Theatre by Stealth – Looking at relationships with audiences and how we keep them coming to our buildings and enticing new people.


Is the Theatre Touring Model Broken – Looking at the current model that companies employ when planning, executing and completing a tour and how we can support a wider range of people, from different backgrounds and with different experiences, better when they are in a touring production.


House of Decay & House of Joy – Looking at whether the sector has lost its joy and interrogating the reasons why, while also looking at all the things that are joyful about the children’s theatre (and theatre in general) sector.


“Great day - really well organised. Very thought-provoking. Enjoyed the mixture of activities and opportunities to listen or be involved.”


In between these sessions we also managed to fit in some amazing lunch, provided by Samosa Shack (Kamini Patel) and a lovely work-in-progress sharing of a new show ‘Kevin the Mermaid’ by Alexa Vox.



“A bit of rekindled hope for the future of the sector, and a re-enforced sense of being supported by and being part of a bigger sector/network.”


Overall, the Big Imaginations 10-Year Symposium was a powerful reminder of the transformative power of collaboration and the importance of prioritising joy and accessibility in creating meaningful theatre experiences for children.


“It was a great celebration and wonderful to hear about the journey of the network. I also enjoyed the 'vibe' of Z-arts having never been before.”