Consulting with children: policy and practice

Last week The Ark, a Cultural Centre for Children and Children’s Books Ireland presented a symposium on the subject of consulting with children, in the service of developing policy & programmes for arts centres. One of our recent MA graduates, Bairbre Carmody, attended the symposium and is happy to make the following report for

Building a Culture of Consultation with Children within Artistic Policy and Practice was a joint symposium presented by The Ark and Children’s Books Ireland which took place at The Ark last Friday 12th September with over 80 delegates from around Ireland, representing all areas of the arts, including theatre, museums, galleries, libraries and community arts. Sheila Greene, Director of the Children’s Research Centre at Trinity College chaired the event and gave some background to current children’s policy. According to Greene, children now have a voice in matters which affect them, and participation with children can influence decision- making and bring about change. Presentations were given by Liz Moran, Artistic Director of Macrobert Children’s Arts Centre in Stirling, Scotland, whose young consultancy scheme involves young people directly in the decision making of the centre. She was joined by Charlotte Kelly who has been a Young Consultant with the arts centre for the past seven years. Charlotte gave the young perspective on the importance of this type of consultancy. Karen Bertrams, Library Advisor for ProBiblio in Holland involved children in the design of the The Library of 100 Talents, in Heerhugowaard, an interactive library where the children worked alongside the architect in every aspect of designing the building. Adam Graham and young consultant Ruby Lloyd-Burman from Media Fish, Leeds Young People’s Film Festival now run a year-round consultancy with 9-18 year olds offered advice when participating with this age group. The presentations were followed by practical workshops, delivered by Playtrain, a UK based provider of hands-on training, creative children’s consultations and action research for organisations working with children. The symposium was supported by The Irish Youth Foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies and The Office of the Minister for Children. The day ended with a lively discussion on the importance of involving young people in decision making about affairs that affect them and how best to plan a consultancy framework specific for each organisation.

Thanks Bairbre! A copy of the symposium schedule can be found here.