Baboró’s mission to expand children’s horizonsSeptember 13, 2012 - 7:00am
Lali Morris, the Artistic Director of Baboró Arts Festival for Children, used to be a teacher and she brings such enthusiasm and passion to her work with Baboró that you sense she must have been inspirational in her previous job.
Baboró started as an offshoot of Galway Arts Festival 16 years ago, specialising in shows for children and younger people. But the event, which this year runs from October 15-21 has since become a major creative force in its own right.
A highlight of this year’s Festival is Beast – Baboró: Environment, Art, Science and Technology – an exhibition based on a project driven by Baboró, which aims to bridge the gulf that often exists between science and arts.
“It’s a science and arts project inspired by a similar one I had seen in the UK, having scientists work with school kids and then having the kids’ response to that work captured through an art form,” explains Lali.
This pilot scheme was carried out earlier this year with the support of NUIG, The Martin Ryan Institute and Dublin City of Science 2012 and involved a team of eight scientists, eight artists, eight teachers and over 200 children.
It started when eight science researchers were paired with 200 students from four city schools and four from the county. Researchers and pupils spent three days exploring topics such as energy production, sustainable living and marine biology, including the development of seaweed farms. These days involved field trips and the youngsters also carried out various experiments, helped by specialists from NUIG. It was a challenge for the academics as well, observes Lali, as they had to find ways of demonstrating complex ideas and processes to very young people. But they rose to it brilliantly.
Following that, eight artists visited the schools and worked with pupils, using different art forms such as animation, craft and poetry to capture these scientific experiences.
“It was real teaching in the sense that so many subjects were being taught,” says Lali. “When you make education exciting for kids, they are hungry for it.”
Baboró is hosting an exhibition showing the process of this science and art journey. Beast will be in the city’s Fr Burke Road, beside the Kashmir restaurant.
Baboró wants to work with young people, not just present shows to them and Beast is proof of how that aim is developing.
But of course, presentingshows for schools and families are also a vital component of the Festival. This year the focus is on home produced theatre and music, with 10 Irish companies taking part.
“There is a lot of new work, including two pieces I haven’t seen yet,” says Lali. That’s unusual, as she normally sees every show in advance, but these two are still in development.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.