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Small size, Big Festival comes to Newry

February 3, 2014

By Christine Keighery

A festival of performing arts dedicated to early years children is  set to come to Newry this week. The international arts event closes the “Small size, big citizens” project, which was conceived and developed by “Small Size”, the European Network for the diffusion of performing arts for early childhood.

This unique project involved and wove together artistic and cultural organizations from 12 European countries.

Hosted by Sticky Fingers Arts, the festival marks the grand finale of five years of intensive activities by the European Network group – including productions, workshops, meetings, publications, exhibitions and many other events aimed at spreading a culture of arts and early childhood.

With 4 action packed days planned from Thursday 6th February to Sunday 9th February children will get to experience shows for 0 to 6 years old, workshops, conferences, round tables and exhibitions. The event is hailed as an exciting opportunity for meeting, sharing ideas, and exploring new possibilities in this innovative approach to the arts for early childhood.

There will be 40 events held throughout Newry over the 4 days with performances from a host of European groups, including the Helios Theatre company from Germany, the Hungarian Kolibri Theatre for Children and Youth, the Compagnie O’Navio from France and the Romanian group, Teatrul Ion Creanga.

According to Grainne Powell, Chief Executive of Sticky Fingers, the performances represent “the best work that has been produced under this banner.”

“There are some absolutely incredible shows that will be on our doorstep and we would encourage all to come out and see them,” she says.

There will also be a series of talks held for the 250 international delegates attending the festival, which will feature contributors from America, South Africa and South Korea.  Various issues will be examined during these symposiums including the Charter of Children’s Rights to Art and Culture and Children’s Cultural Citizenship.

The Ulster Folk and Transport Museum will be setting up a display at the Old Mill on Edward Street and the artistic talents of children throughout the district will be celebrated with a display of self-potraits throughout the festival.

A children’s book written and illustrated by children from St Clare’s Primary School and The Abbey Primary School will also be launched as part of the festival.  “Shipwrecked” tells the story of shipwrecked pirates who end up in Newry.

Sticky Fingers’ Chief Executive says the selection of Newry as the venue for the grand finale of such a huge project will firmly place the city on the international cultural map.

“When EU officials came here they were really impressed with the local people and children, and also with the enthusiasm and support that Sticky Fingers has locally” says Grainne.

“With Sticky Fingers the motivation behind all of our work is  our local children who keep driving forward to do more events. We were able to bring this event to Newry and we hope that as a  result we will leave a legacy in attracting events and that all children in Northern Ireland have equal rights to engage in arts and culture.”

The festival will culminate in the much anticipated “Moondance” hosted by Sticky Fingers in collaboration with other local arts groups. Moondance will take place in the grounds of Narrow Water Castle, and it promises to be a “spectacular and magical experience” where the creatures that live in the Mournes come to life to play and dance with the moon when the sun goes down.  The show will feature lights, music, magic, Irish mythology and giant puppets as well as a new collection of the famous Sticky Fingers’ Dragons created by artist Francis Morgan.

“There is confidence that the festival is going to be a major success,” adds Mrs Powell,

“Although children are small in size, they are big citizens and Newry has the highest population of children in the North.  Children have a very strong vision of what is possible.”

Small Size, Big Festival will be held from February 6th to 9th. For further information or to purchase tickets for certain events visit stickyfingersarts.co.uk or contact 028 3025 7885.

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