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Grainne Powell, Sticky Fingers is all set for this weeks Small Size Big Festival in Newry. Photograph: Columba O'HareThe Sticky Fingers Hosted Small Size - Big Festival begins this Thursday the 6th of February with over 300 delegates arriving from across Europe.

Representatives from the arts, children’s rights and political sectors from 12 different countries will be arriving in Newry this week for the Festival event and conference taking place from the 6th to the 9th of February.

The finale of an exploratory programme which spanned more than five years and 15 different countries dedicated to performing arts in the early years sector now culminates in the home city of ‘Sticky Fingers’. 

Sticky Fingers is a children’s arts organisation based in Newry which provides opportunities for young children to access and engage in the arts.

Chosen by ‘Small size’ UK to bid against Spain and Hungary for this event, Newry emerged as the chosen host city based on its ability to deliver world class access to the arts for children primarily through Sticky Fingers with very limited resource and infrastructure. It was also seen as a compact city where the entire community could get involved, which is what has happened during the planning for this event.

Grainne Powell, Chief Executive, Sticky Fingers explains what the festival is about, what delegates can expect and how local people can get involved. She said, “This is a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase what we can do in Newry and indeed in a region such as Northern Ireland to make the arts accessible to children. This is both to help aid children’s development as well as using the arts as a way towards a better society by engaging children at an early age.

“This festival which will see shows open to the public in venues right across Newry from Thursday 6th until Sunday 9th February will bring together the work that has been developed in countries across Europe through the ‘Small size, big citizen’ project for more than five years. The delegates will observe the active participation of children in the arts something which has been developed as a new teaching methodology over the course of the project.

“We have some fantastic events for the public including the Northern Ireland spectacular ‘Moon dance’, an original musical and animated performance with a cast of giant dragons, taking place at Narrow Water Castle in Warrenpoint during half hour slots between 6.30pm and 8pm on Saturday night 8th February and all event details can be found on the Sticky Fingers website or by picking up a programme from the Box Office at The Children’s Art House on Monaghan Street in Newry.

“We have some very senior figures from the arts and political spheres joining us for the festival and the international Symposium “The Children’s Cultural Citizenship”. We hope that we can create a legacy of further investment in the arts in this area and for delegates to see what somewhere like Newry can achieve when people come together.  I would also like to acknowledge and sincerely thank our funders who have helped to make this happen- Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, An Chomhairle Ealaion, EU Culture Programme and Newry and Mourne District Council.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “We are pleased to be able to lend significant financial support to Sticky Fingers in bringing the Small size, big festival to Newry.  This festival of performing arts for early years promises a wealth of diverse international performances from leading artists and children’s arts organisations that will appeal to both schools and local families with young children. The 4-day event will also provide valuable networking and learning opportunities for arts practitioners and companies here to meet with their European counterparts and share new ideas to shape the future of arts for early childhood. It is an exciting time for children’s arts as ever more credence is given to its positive impact on the development of a child’s personality and learning.”

Grainne Powell added, “We hope that families will come out and support the events, that the delegates will have a positive experience in Northern Ireland and that ultimately by bringing together the years of work that have gone into this project people will see how important engaging children at a young age in the arts, decision making and establishing a cultural identity will only help improve society going forward.”

For further information about tickets for any of the events, to download the programme  or to find out more about the festival please log onto www.stickyfingersarts.co.uk or call The Children’s Art House on 028 3025 7885.

 

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