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Following the success of On The Edge, Birmingham 2016 the moment was ripe for continued collaboration, for the TYA sector to continue its ambition of creating and building more dynamic theatre provision for children and young people, especially in relation to diversity of artists, practice and product.   As artists and organisations we see ourselves as agents of change, responsible for ensuring the quality of difference is enabled and celebrated across our produced and presented programmes and festivals of work for children, young people and families.

The collective effort grew and a new collaboration was sought – our project The Quality of Difference is a series of explorations into difference and addressing a question fundamental to our work:

What do we need to put in place to ensure theatre for children, young people and families is reflective of the society we live in today?

So we begin with conversations – both at home and abroad with a focus for this series (1) on BAME and Disability.   At home we will begin to map current provision seeking out excellence and models of practice from across a breadth of performing arts.  The conversation abroad will take us to the Cradle of Creativity in Cape Town.

60 independent artists applied to our call out for delegates to ‘go see’ and  6 of them will be invited to make the journey on all of our behalf’s,  taking forward the conversations at home with International colleagues.  We know the conversations and collaborations encountered will enrich our practice, that lessons learned will be shared and new ideas given wings.

At home in England for those of us who are not able to attend will gather at The Spark Festival to share knowledge and practice around methods of engagement and ways in which to cultivate new opportunities for artists and audiences.  This Open Meeting is for all, so for those of you who would like to join the discussion you will find us in Leicester on May 24th.  There will be space at the table for everyone who wants to discuss the quality of difference.

Later on in the year we will present the research and artistic impulses/ provocations gained from the Cradle of Creativity and gather for a symposium in Birmingham July 11th 2017 – one year on from On The Edge, one year further forward in our desire to create a more diverse sector representative of contempory Britain.

Adel Al-Salloum, Director The Spark Festival and TYA England Chair

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