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The Vital Spark Symposium

Wednesday 13 and Thursday 14 March 2024

Time to think… and take collective action.

From truth comes courage and from courage comes change.

The Vital Spark Symposium will be unapologetic about where the Performance for Young Audiences (PYA) sector is and how far it needs to go to reshape traditional approaches and become truly relevant and inclusive.   

It will be a reflective, supportive and action focused space for artists, directors, programmers, venues, practitioners, and funders to come together and learn from one another.

What’s on offer

These two days will be an opportunity to stop, think, and reflect, in an environment that is both action focussed and supportive. It will be a chance to:

  • Take part in open truthful discussions and debate with peers 
  • See new work in development by the latest cohort of Vital Spark artists
  • Socialise and network with people from across the sector
13 and 14 March 2024
Attenborough Arts Centre

More about this event

Day one

Panel Discussion: “Where are we at?”

Explore the realities of independent or organisational situations in the PYA sector. Understand how current opportunities and challenges are shaping commitments to relevance and inclusivity.

Panellists include: Daryl Beeton (Artistic Director, Daryl and Co, Associate Vital Spark Company), Titilola Dawudu (Writer/Programmer/Producer and Associate Dramaturg at The Bush Theatre), Christopher Gorry (Artistic Director, The Spark Arts for Children and Trustee, Zest Theatre), Abid Hussain (Director, Diversity, Arts Council England) and Keisha Thompson (Artistic Director/CEO, Contact).

Vital Spark Ideas Fund sharing

Discover the innovative projects of three Vital Spark artists Tanya Akrofi, Justyna Cwojdzińska and Dave ‘Stickman’ Higgins and learn how organisations can support these projects and contribute to their realisation.

Reflective workshop: “From Shared Truths, Comes Collective Courage”

Participate in a facilitated reflective session. Share your truths, connect with peers, and explore how collective action can address challenges and opportunities in the PYA sector.

Facilitated by Daryl Beeton, Titilola Dawudu and Christopher Gorry.

Artistic Allyship: “From Courage, Comes Commitment to Action”

Move from talk to action. Join us in co-creating the Vital Spark collective commitment to action, leveraging shared truths and collective courage.

Facilitated by Daryl Beeton, Titilola Dawudu and Christopher Gorry.

The Social

Wrap up the day by relaxing and reflecting with colleagues, new friends, and potential allies.

Day two

The Debate: “Comfortable Quality Vs Courageous Ambition”

Engage in a lively debate on the merits of Comfortable Quality versus Courageous Ambition and how each contributes to diversifying the PYA sector. Hear perspectives from a panel of ambitious industry leaders.

Let’s Talk Money: Practical Partnerships

A case study presentation on the impact of Lincoln Arts Centre becoming a Vital Spark partner.

Join Lincoln Arts Centre’s Creative and Executive Director Ben Anderson and Tanya Akrofi (relationship programme artist 2024) as they share their experience as a new Vital Spark Partner and local Lincoln artist.

Ben and Tanya will share their experience of being involved in Vital Spark and why targeted relational investment in artists and the sector is more impactful than transactional investment.

Meet the Vital Spark Relationship Programme Artists 2024

Participate in our annual event to meet and engage with the Vital Spark Relationship Programme artists. Stay tuned for a unique introduction as we co-create this format with the artists themselves. Watch this space!

A look at previous events

Venue – Attenborough Arts Centre

The Symposium will be taking place at Vital Spark host venue and partner; Attenborough Arts Centre.
During weekdays, pay and display parking is available in Victoria Park (entrance on Granville Road). After 6pm and on weekends, free parking is available at the Medical Sciences Building next door.
For blue badge parking they have four parking bays at the front of our building, please call ahead at 0116 252 2455 to book a space.
Attenborough Arts Centre, Lancaster Road, Leicester LE1 7HA
0116 252 2455

The Vital Spark behind everything we do

We believe that all children should be able to experience arts and culture, and that they should be able to see themselves represented in these experiences. This is not yet the case for every child and we’re committed to changing that.

Our response is Vital Spark, and it's at the heart of everything we do. Vital Spark is about challenging and changing the lack of diversity in children’s arts and culture; it’s about diverse-led artistic decision making; it’s about not being afraid to stand up for what’s right.

We do this by supporting artists who are currently underrepresented in children’s arts and culture. We also work with partner organisations to create world-class opportunities for these artists and share best practice.

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