An eclectic melee of children’s writers, illustrators, poets and storytellers entertained families over four days and 400 hours of free events, activities and art workshops celebrating children’s literature during the Pop Up Festival national tour to the UNESCO World Heritage site Ironbridge Gorge Museums in Shropshire, High House Production Park in Essex – where Royal Opera House build their sets, and the Swiss Cottage cultural quarter in London, between April and July 2014.
Our 2014 festival ‘creators’ – authors and artists commissioned to design ‘pop-up experiences’ – represented a stunning breadth of form and practice. They included: award-winning translator Sarah Ardizzone; YA novelist Sita Brahmachari; fantasy author Sarwat Chadda (aka Joshua Khan); performance poet Kayo Chingonyi; picture book creator Thomas Docherty; poet and activist Zena Edwards; novelist Julia Golding; musician and storyteller Usifu Jalloh; ‘Katie’ picture book creator James Mayhew; gothic illustrator Chris Mould; fairy tale writer Jane Ray; eco-storyteller Rich Sylvester; ‘Mr Big’ creator Ed Vere; and early-years illustrator Ken Wilson-Max.
Our touring partner, Royal Opera House and Bridge, helped bring our creators’ stories to life with stunning sets and costumes – co-created by stage designers working over many weeks with local families. 12,000 visitors, young and old, immersed themselves in live experiences and installations including a 50’s era jazz joint, roaming myth-cycle performances with monster puppets, giant toy theatres, an Arthurian Pavilion, a pop-up book style jungle, an issue-based poetry gaming event, a giant evolving mobile of an enchanted city, and a novel transformed into a multi-sensory installation.
Additionally, Pop Up delivered 50 days of free author-led workshops in schools local to the festivals, to cultivate local audiences in communities with low access to artistic opportunities.
Pop Up Festival was made possible through both a Strategic Touring award and a Grants for the Arts Award from Arts Council England – as well as sponsorship from Bloomberg.