Żigużajg festival 2014 reveals growing demand for arts events for young audiences

Over 12,000 children, young people and adults attended more than 150 events held over one week.

This year’s edition of Żigużajg, the Arts Festival for Children and Young People, registered a record 97 percent attendance with 80 per cent of tickets sold out within the first 24 hours of release.

The festival, which was held last month, is the only one in Malta and Gozo where children and young people are truly centre stage. Over 12,000 children, young people and adults attended more than 150 events held over one week.

“Ticket sales reflect a growing demand for children’s arts events,” said Rupert Cefai, Chairman of Fondazzjoni Ċentru għall-Kreattività, producers of ŻiguŻajg.

“One of the festival’s core aims is to stimulate young audiences by putting them in touch with art and artists, possibly for the very first time. Artists in turn are then motivated to create work for younger audiences, resulting in the beginning of a process where interesting interlinks are created between them.”

Excellence in programming is therefore key to the festival. Żigużajg Festival prides itself on a programme spanning a variety of artistic forms featuring participating artists of a very high calibre, who are well-known for a number of productions both locally as well as internationally.

This year, some of the acts in the festival made the headlines, including an installation involving 12,000 primary school children paintings in the heart of Valletta, a bedside puppet show created for hospitals and a play in Maltese on teenage pregnancy aimed at teenagers.

Thanks to major investment from the Government, private sponsors and support from partner organisations, Żigużajg offered 5,400 free tickets to schoolchildren. In addition, it managed to retain a minimal charge of €2 per ticket for public performances.

With each ticket’s actual value estimated to be €22, Żigużajg Festival is committed towards ensuring full accessibility to all audiences in future editions of the festival through continuous work on partnerships and sponsorships.

For this year’s festival, over 150 artists took part in 28 productions, including 12 foreign shows. Of these, eight productions were commissioned directly by the festival. These go through a specific process – some lasting over a year - with participating artists pitching and discussing ideas and stories together.

“Artists presenting their work specifically for young audiences enjoy the challenge this brings to their own creative development,” says Toni Attard.

“By commissioning works for children, ŻiguŻajg helps catalyse a process which can hopefully grow to a point where arts events for children can meet demand throughout the year. The start of this process is one of the main strands of the festival’s legacy.”

To this end, Żigużajg is also launching a call for ideas for the 2015 festival. Until the 14 January 2015, organisers are encouraging applicants to send in their ideas for next year’s Żigużajg by mailing a short description of their Project to [email protected]

Applicants will be asked to attend an open door pitching session which will take place on Tuesday 27 January 2015. More information can be found on www.facebook.com/ziguzajg

ŻiguŻajg is produced by St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity with the support of the Government of Malta.

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