The Spark's History

The Spark Children's Arts Festival began in 2003, as a 10 month project run by a consortium of five local theatre venues, supported by Leicester and Leicestershire Arts in Education, and led by Loughborough Town Hall.

Its mission was to present a platform of some of the best British and international children's theatre and dance companies to local children, bringing much-needed opportunities for children to engage with the performing arts in three main settings: professional theatres, schools and community venues. The first festival ran for 8 days, presented 70 events and was seen by an audience of 9500 children, teachers and parents.

After a second successful year The Spark became an independent company and a registered charity. A two-year Grants for the Arts from Arts Council England enabled the company to become 'full-time' with an office base at LCB Depot in the heart of Leicester's cultural quarter. The Spark began to expand its 'out of festival' activity, working closely with Creative Partnerships Leicester, with Leicester City Libraries and Leicester Play Strategy to develop new projects for children, families and teachers. Six years on from the first Spark, the organisation was awarded Regularly Funded Organisation status by Arts Council England and from April 2012 became a National Portfolio Organisation.

In 2013 the company was renamed The Spark Arts for Children, to reflect the work that we do outside the festival all year round.

In 2018 The Spark Arts was again confirmed as a National Portfolio organisation for 2018-22.

About The Spark Festival

Founded in 2003, The Spark Children's Arts Festival is a two-week summer festival of the performing and visual arts for children in Leicester and Leicestershire. It has grown over the past thirteen years driven by the belief that the arts are crucial to a child's development and well-being.

The festival aims for variety and access - to create as many opportunities as possible for children to engage with a wide range of performances and events in a variety of settings:

  • Professional Arts Venues
  • Schools
  • 'On Your Doorstep' - community venues, parks, libraries, on occasion a swimming pool!

The Spark works closely with all presenting venues, and with local authorities to programme and present events.

The programme aims to present a variety of work, from puppetry to contemporary dance, that is specially created for children by a range of regional, national and international companies.