Now in its second year, The Ark Children’s Council 2017/18 are made up of young people from Dublin City.
They have been together since September 2017 and will finish their time on the council in June 2018. They meet up roughly once a month (depending on what’s on at The Ark) and they respond to and engage with The Ark’s artistic programme.
The aim of The Ark Children’s Council is to create a clear path of access to the Ark’s programme to a diverse group of young people from Dublin and surrounding areas. We bring together children from different parts of the city who might not share common space in school or at play otherwise. We hope that the Children’s Council ultimately influences our decision making here at the Ark. In accordance with both The Ark’s founding principles and with the UN convention on Children’s Rights, the Council fosters and promotes active citizenship and civic engagement.
Our group are united by the fact that they’re all in 5th class but they range in age from 10-12. They are interested in art, theatre, dance and music- with some having had some access to these interests before while others unfortunately have not.
We began in September 2017 with a lot of “getting to know you” games and a tour of the Beautiful Beasts exhibition at The Ark. In our October session, we started thinking about Universal Children’s Day and how we could respond to this as a Council. It was decided that we conduct a nationwide call out to the children of Ireland. Our brief was simple, “if you could ask the Taoiseach a question, what would it be?” The Children’s Council acted as a conduit for these questions. The Council created a shortlist and ultimately select the questions. We decided we would meet three times throughout November in order to carry out our “Ask the Taoiseach a Question” project.
Our first November session involved a visual arts workshop, where we created a visual representation of the questions children might ask the Taoiseach. We were talking about direct provision, gender quality, job opportunities and global warming. We created a “google map” of Ireland with a number of “pins” representing our various concerns and issues. In so doing we hoped to make our concerns immediately understandable and accessible. Our session on the 11th of November involved the shortlisting and selection of our questions. On the 20th of November, Universal Children’s Day, we presented these questions to the Taoiseach at Leinster House. Please check out the videos we made about our process (Talking to the Taoiseach) and about our day with the Taoiseach at Leinster House (Talking with the Taoiseach).
The Children’s Council attended Tracks in the Snow in December. This was the Council’s first time attending an Ark performance and the Council met the artists who made the show, The Henry Girls, afterwards. Our day concluded with a “festive gathering” with Council members, parents, our home school liaisons and The Ark staff. We had a ball!
In January, the Council attended a tour of the Music In Glass Exhibition by Roisin de Buitlear. The artist herself gave a tour of this exhibition and the Council was given the opportunity to create “The Dublin Glass Band” – using glass instruments from the exhibition.
In February the Council were involved in the Ark’s PUSH project. PUSH is an ambitious artist development project investing in the careers and work practices of artists from five european countries working in the area of theatre and dance for young audiences, both in their own countries and internationally. 14 international artists met with our Council. It was a fantastic day full of different art forms, different languages, approaches from different cultures and there was lots of fun and laughter. Many children said it was their favourite Council Session to date.
Our March meeting involved a strategy session with The Ark’s Director Aideen Howard and three members from the Ark’s board of directors. The Council were given the opportunity to present their ideas and communicate their understanding of The Ark’s strategy and discuss these ideas with these important Ark stakeholders.
Our April session saw the Council participating in the Me and the City workshops with Jole Bortoli. This was part of the Ark’s creative visual arts programme where children can discover and explore the colours and textures of a city and its buildings, sculptures and street art. The Council got to make models of completely original buildings based on their own designs.
11 members of the Children’s Council formed part of the Fantastic Flix Children’s Jury at the Audi DublinInternational Film Festival. The children viewed all films in the children’s category of the festival between January and March 2018. These viewings involved weekly screenings and feedback sessions led by our project co-ordinator Liam McCarthy. The jury watched, evaluated, and reviewed Fantastic Flix titles from around the world before deciding on one film as the Best Fantastic Flix Film of 2018. This project is in collaboration with ADIFF and the Irish Film Classification Office.
The Council are involved with Cruinniú na nÓg, a nationwide day of creativity for children. The Council are presenting Still Loading… a mini-festival of new performances-in-progress for children. We will be working with artists who will present short pieces in The Ark’s theatre on the 23rd of June. The performance will be MC’d by the Children’s Council.
The Children’s Council will continue to engage with, respond to and ultimately influence our artistic programme here at the Ark. Please check out our blog posts for updates on The Council's activities throughout the year.