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Preparing a theatre festival is like building a sandcastle on the beach. At first it just looks like a pile of sand – a rough idea – but with hard work and collaboration it starts to take shape; impressive towers appear, windows and walls. Tunnels and ditches. You dig deep for treasures to decorate the castle; shells and beautiful stones. After hours of work it is there. Perfect. Ready to be admired by all who pass by – glistening in the afternoon sun.

And at this moment, right on cue, the tide comes in. It starts with a little friendly nibble at the castle gate and  before long it has swept away every trace of the glorious structure you invested so much time, thought and energy to design and create.

With this comes a mixed feeling of sadness and joy. Sadness because your beautiful castle has gone, never to be seen again. –And joyful bliss – because now you can start all over again and build an even more magnificent castle!

The tide has now swept away the SAND festival in Kristiansand, Norway (previously simply known as the ASSITEJ festival). This year, the festival hosted the ASSITEJ executive committee’s meeting. The members of the EC, as well as other guests of the festival, were met with great hospitality and an impressive programme of shows, seminars and workshops to enjoy and take part in.

Alongside the rebranding of the festival to SAND, it now is now held in collaboration with the beautiful and brand new Kilden Performing arts centre in Kristiansand. The festival has now also taken the step to become an annual festival, which is of course great news. I am sure the ASSITEJ family worldwide joins me in congratulating ASSITEJ Norway on this exciting development.

Around the world, at any given moment in time, hundreds of theatre festivals for young audiences are being carefully planned and prepared.  Right now, somewhere in the world, funds are being raised, themes chosen, shows selected, theatres booked and contracts drawn up. Lights are being rigged, stages swept – all in time for the big festival week…

…and then the tide comes in.

Fortunately though, no tide is strong enough to sweep away the lasting impression a strong artistic experience can have on us all; children and adults alike.

Thank you, festival managers of the world, for building your beautiful castles again and again for us to enjoy!

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