Among Ideal Friends – Libraries, Literacy and the Arts for children

Here are some thoughts and findings from phase one of a project I was involved in (and remain involved in phase two). Hopefully anyone interested in libraries, arts, culture and arts education will find it useful.

Among Ideal Friends  (AIF) is a touring performance project developed by The Spark Arts for Children in partnership with Libraries in the East Midlands. Working together to deliver and transport high quality family theatre performances and workshop activities, inspired by books and stories for children, families and schools, alongside training for library staff and community volunteers.”

A Boy and A Bear in a Boat (one of the AIF shows, by Stewart Melton adapted from the book by Dave Shelton)

I worked with The Spark Arts for about a year on this and it was great to be able to vary and refine the approach to evaluation throughout. As someone primarily in the arts & events field, the role of libraries in the wider cultural sector was not something I would have previously considered myself particularly well informed about. Considering that they represent a nation-spanning, universally provided range of facilities or venues usually offering free and unlimited access to assorted cultural experiences, goods and services… in retrospect, well, that seems like an oversight! Especially given the recent and emerging debates around cultural democracy and everyday participation.

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