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World Day of Theatre is a vital marker in the ASSITEJ Year and ASSITEJ urges everyone to “Take a Child to the Theatre today” – a reminder of the responsibility of the adults around children and young people to enable their arts experiences as much as they can.

Taking a child to the theatre means re-connecting with live performance, with ideas and emotions, with human to human connection and it means upholding the rights of children and young people to arts and culture and to freedom of self-expression. Listening to children and young people is terribly important – hearing them and accepting the need for change is even more so.

To quote the Manifesto of ASSITEJ, we believe that much more needs to be done to meet all countries’ obligations with respect to Articles 13 and 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

This is especially true in light of the current pandemic, the crisis of conflict that plays out in so many countries around the world, and the urgent need for equity and equal opportunities for every child to live in a sustainable, safe and healthy world. Arts and culture allow us to imagine the world we wish to create for and with our children and young people, and are therefore crucial as we take action to ensure better conditions for our societies.

Now is the time when live theatre and performance is most needed as a reassurance that imagination can conquer fear. This is a time when the courage and conviction of artists who make Theatre and performance for Young Audiences all around the world can help to create space for release, catharsis, and the expression of joy in children and young people everywhere.  We have seen such inventive, determined creation, such commitment, and we know by examples from all our members, the dedication to keep making theatre and performance for the very youngest through to young adults has not faded. We are a community that has become stronger.

Children and young people have felt the impact of loss of socialisation, of confidence and hope and this has deeply affected their mental health; decision-makers everywhere are sitting up and take notice.  Our young audiences and participants are more in need of art, culture, theatre and performance than ever before; those essential experiences that provide openings, broader points of view, the possibility of impossibility, fun and wonder, beauty and emotion; experiences that give meaning to a chaotic world and remind us of the bonds of humanity.

Sue Giles

President of ASSITEJ

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