On Art, Children and Schools

For the last fifteen years Fevered Sleep has been exploring the rich seam of creativity that appears where professional artistic practice meets children and childhood – through a series of performance works made for young audiences; projects created in collaboration with children (most recently Men & Girls Dance); research projects like Future Play (which modelled new approaches to making and touring performance for children); and by building peer networks and events that have tried to activate the conversation about art, children, quality and ambition.  It’s been a massive part of our work over this decade and a half, and it’s something we feel deeply passionate about.

At the same time, we’ve witnessed the gradual devaluing and erosion of art and creative subjects in the school curriculum, driven by governments obsessed with measurable test results rather than actual learning, and by a misguided belief that creativity is unproductive, unimportant and unintelligent.  We’ve watched as schools – with increasingly tight budgets – have had to cut back on creative opportunities.  These changes have been painful to witness.

So, against this backdrop, we’re hugely excited to be working in collaboration with Clifton Green Primary School in York on a year-long research project, The Institute of Everything, funded by Wellcome Trust.

Running from September 2018 – July 2019, The Institute of Everything introduces the idea that artists, like children, are in a constant process of questioning the world around them, and wondering how it might be imagined differently.  Focusing on the creative process of critical thinking, we’re moving away from the idea that artists are people who simply make and do things.  We’ll be working with a cohort of brilliant associate artists, who will introduce the whole school community to all sorts of art and creative practices, at the same time as revealing how artists engage deeply with some of the biggest, most challenging questions we face.

We have so much to learn, from the children here at Clifton Green, from the amazing staff team, the visionary leadership, and from the wider community the school serves. 

We’ll be sharing this learning across the year, so keep in touch if you want to find out more. To sign up to our mailing list click here.

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