About PUSH

PUSH Steering Group, Edinburgh - photo by Geraldine Heaney

There is a desire in the children’s theatre and dance sector, to create work that is excellent and relevant, which tells a more diverse range of stories, and reflects the experiences and lives of us all.

PUSH is a 2-year project working with five partners in Scotland, Belgium, Ireland, Norway and Denmark to ‘push’ and develop thinking, ideas and the artforms within theatre and dance for children and young people in Europe.

PUSH will offer international, high quality opportunities for artists including: 3 artistic Labs, 5 festival visits, 8 networking events, 8 public events, a bespoke website and a documentary film.

PUSH will focus on three topics that are currently underexplored in work for young audiences:

  • Gender will explore the following: How can we use performance to explore gender and sexuality with children… and should we? How can artists use their current skills and push themselves and the sector to create bold and radical work for children?
  • (over)protection will investigate how we can protect children without restricting their childhood. How we can balance risk and protection, wildness and safety and take work outside our theatres – to shopping malls, to school playgrounds – opening up equality of access for our young audiences and their adults.
  • Migration will ask how we can talk about migration and asylum with our audiences, including minority voices, in a sector that is not yet diverse and a context that is highly political.

PUSH will stimulate European dialogue around these topics that get to the core of who we are, how we choose to live, what stories we tell each other and how we honestly, yet safely, represent the reality of life to children and young people.

In order to explore this material in a meaningful way and enhance our learning beyond the current thinking in our own countries, PUSH will bring artists and organisations together to work alongside young people and non-arts professionals (individuals, child psychologists, teachers, LGBTQI staff and human rights experts). All of these people will provide external inspiration and provocation for the participating artists all of whom will be specifically selected for their expertise and interest in each topic.

PUSH Objectives

  • To initiate new ideas for theatre and dance for young audiences – exploring topics that are currently underrepresented and require addressing; topics that can be taboo and/or experimental
  • To create positive and open spaces to pilot new ideas/experiments with audiences – we will discover how audiences (including children and young people, their families/carers and teachers) respond to the material as a basis for future production ideas
  • To offer high quality training and peer-to-peer learning for European artists and practitioners based in Scotland (UK), Belgium, Ireland, Denmark and Norway
  • To create a visible network of artists, peers, organisations and festivals across the EU – we will promote the participating artists within the partner organisations and ensure their connection with the network is not a one-off experience.
  • To enhance the international career potential for artists through opportunities to find new collaborators and new markets for their productions
  • To build stronger and more diverse partnerships, using the PUSH opportunities to build connections in parts of the EU where our connections are not yet as strong – we will focus on this through events and networking for PUSH with the international delegations at the five partner festivals

PUSH Planned Activities

  • 3 Labs in Scotland, Belgium and Ireland attended by 42 artists from the 5 partner countries, each Lab will connect a local school and a team of artistic leaders and non-arts professionals
  • 3 PUSH 2-day events at each Lab for sector peers and the general public
  • 5 festival visits for 35 artists from the 5 partner countries
  • 5 PUSH 2-day public presentations at the 5 partner festivals
  • Professional project trailer and documentary