Author: Louise Robert
Visual Credit: Anne-Cécile Bonnet
In the last decade our kids and teens got the opportunity to participate in festivals that were entirely built around them. A whole host of entertaining activities were proposed: live music, dance, theatre, puppetry, games, poetry, sports, arts & crafts, food making, as well as makers playgrounds, workshops to explore technology and science or to discuss climate change and sustainability and not to forget clubbing, giant connect four games and even cardboard sculptures.
When we write our kids and teens, we choose our words with care. We believe festivals planning should no longer be exclusively addressed to parents who already provide their kids with a substantial cultural capital. For that matter, festivals locations are a crucial point. It should take place in the most deprived areas, in neighborhoods that are left out in terms of urban planning and restoration. Festival locations must be a political choice.
Furthermore, we think kid’s festivals should be constructed according to the binary model that has already proven its worth in adult events: linking music concerts and social issues. Before getting into details, and to make it easy for us to anticipate such a proposal, we give this festival a name: Brouhaha Festival.
Climate change has an impact on the way we think and plan our festivals nowadays. This means taking into considération the waste we produce, where our guests travel from, what kind of food we serve, and whether or not we print our communications supports.
One way to take that a step further would be to no longer generate disposable constructions for an event that lasts only for a few days. In order to achieve that, permanent structures would be set up. Architects, urban planners, social workers, gardeners and designers would collaborate so that every penny invested in festival structures leads to concrete, durable constructions that would benefit inhabitants, and especially the youngest, all year round.
The impact and use of these constructions would be observed during the year, in order to be enhanced, repaired, upgraded, with more money invested year by year towards readjustment and improvements.
Neighborhoods would improve thanks to restorative architecture projects that make sure that there is no waste of materials and that everything is made in respect of the existing built environment (see the work of Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal). Alleys, front door stairs or actual street furnitures carry with them narratives (see “frontage” ; Nicolas Soulier).
Those involved in the construction process would take care of the memory of things that are already there, and listen to the people that are living there. Recognizing the importance of creating safe, livable, revegetated and playful estates (see “The city at eye level for kids” project). Years after years we would work toward providing the youngest and their families with an environment that cultivates friendship with the living world.
KIDS LIVES MATTER
Social justice and empowerment movements based on speaking up and fighting injustice and minority invisibilities have flourished in the past few months. The voices and stories of children must now be heard in an equal manner.
Kids’ festivals must give priority to creating safe places for all children. First to raise awareness and then to allow children to open up. Talking spaces with care professionals would take place throughout the festival to enable kids to speak up and then to spread those voices to enhance social and legal changes. These safe places would not only be where children can speak freely but for society to learn how to listen to them. We must engage an era of listening.
Festivals would not only address child protection issues but also racial and minority representation and discrimination. They should be places where the young can see themselves as part of a society that reflects who they are. Care philosophers would work along with social and medical professionals towards an objective: hearing children’s voices and stories.
We expect child protection issues to be seen as the major priority of our times. At large, Brouhaha would propose redefining adult-child interaction. Challenging mainstream understandings of the younger members of our society begins with the recognition that children are fully human (David A. Good, 1986) and placing youth rights at the front and fighting against adultism (adult centric interpretations of children, incognizance that children have valid viewpoints).
Many of the economic, social and health inequalities in adulthood are rooted in the early childhood period and it is long proven that children’s immediate neighborhood area has significant effects on life outcomes. That is why festival organisers should bring their savoir-faire where it is most needed.
SHINE BRIGHT LIKE A DIAMOND STAGE
Brouhaha would be a large-scale festival with the most thriving, popular artists of the moment with a state of the art stage production (think Solidays, We Love Green, Field Day, Sonar Festival…). Entrance tickets would be exclusively for under 18s and their parents and would be either very affordable or free of charge thanks to strong partnership work and fundraising.
Young ones would be able to attend concerts that they usually only see on social media, household names such as Burna Boy, Arlo Parks, Khalid or Kali Uchis alongside some of the hotly tipped upcoming artists, giving inhabitants a chance to discover the next big thing.
KALEIDOSCOPE – FORUM FOR THE FUTURE
Kaleidoscope is an editorial committee made up of young people, academics and social workers. They would work throughout the year and be in charge of inviting figures of recent social movements (ex: Arab Spring ; Black Lives Matter ; #Metoo movement) and the foremost young activist speakers during the time of the festival.
A forum of talks would be held, along with workshops and publishing activities. Kaleidoscope would provide space for reflection on key topics for the future. It would be a place where we challenge some long-held conceptions in the fields of history teaching, social studies, and language. In addition to that, conversations on sensitive issues (fake news, religious beliefs, violence) would be held.
Audacious social transformations could also be encouraged (such as lower the voting age to 12, see Thierry Paquot). Local government decisions would be discussed collectively: people have more ideas when it comes to their surrounding environment, it creates real local democracy. Each working group would have a budget to turn its outcomes into durable facilities and also into resources (talks, books, podcast..).
Kaleidoscope would be the editorial committee of the whole festival so that the youngest produce their own accounts, legends and even participate in law and social policy making. Brouhaha is not an utopia. Brouhaha is an intention. A festival for a joyfully frugal and fair future for the generations to come.
This article was conceived as a result of our first call for contributions that aimed to address the challenges and changes that festivals and cultural entities may face in the future. Thanks to the contributions we received, we were able to create the Future(s) of Festivals feature series, that this article is a part of. We’re open to new proposals for our next call for contributions, available here.
On the Author
Anne-Cécile Bonnet is a social worker and a colorful illustration artist. Louise Robert is a university researcher and a youth orientated event planner and publisher.
David A. Goode. (1986). Kids, Culture and Innocents. Human Studies, Vol. 9.
Thierry Paquot. (2011). Un philosophe en ville: Introduction à la philosophie de l’urbain.
Rosa Danenberg, Vivian Doumpa, Hans Karssenberg (ed.). (2018). The city at eye level for kids. BvL foundation – Urban95.
Nicolas Soulier. (2012). http://nicolassoulier.net/html/texts_les_frontages.html