The 7 quality principles: an artist responds…

1st principle: Strive for excellence

Absolutely. No problem. Happy to do that. It's what I live for.

2nd principle: Be authentic

Yes, always aspiring to make work which speaks to my audience. I promise not to patronise children, or just give them re-workings of old stories, or costume my performers only in primary colours and use exaggerated voices. I know they can appreciate performance on more than the level of slapstick, that they can and do cope with beauty, death, the bizarre and the delicate, just like adults. I will make work for children in the same way as my work for adults - same directors, same designers, same composers, same sound artists, same performers, not a watered down version for a less valuable audience.

3rd principle: Excite, inspire, engage

Sometimes, hopefully, usually. Children are varied, just like adults.

4th principle: Create a positive child centred experience

Yes! Adults, teachers....please be quiet. This one's not for you.

5th principle: Actively involve children

Ah, you've got me there. Referring back to my responses to 2nd principal 'be authentic', since I don't usually 'actively involve' adults in my work for adults I have to conclude that I shouldn't necessarily 'actively involve children' in my work for children, sorry! R&D with children where appropriate, yes, lots of it, and much more in the old days when I didn't know what I was doing. Now, though, please trust me, I'm an artist.

6th principle: Provide personal progression

No. Not an educator or parent. An artist.

7th principle: Develop a sense of ownership and belonging

Definitely. Come and see this, I made it for you. Please take a seat on these specially made seats for people your size. Yes box office, the capacity is set at 60/35/90 which I know is inconvenient but it makes the artistic experience 300 times better for these young people which is who it's made for. But please don't tell me it would be better if it was interactive or participatory, just because it's for a child. 

[…Ring ring, ring ring, ring ring..] 'Hello? Hi Ms Bourgeois - can I call you Louise? Great! look, we love 'Maman' it’s a great piece, just responding to some feedback forms we've had in, we wonder if you'd consider a small adjustment to your spidery sculpture; if you could put a few, say 30 or 35 buttons on the leggy bits that attach to some electronic device so that when you push the button the little eggs would light up, or play a nursery rhyme, or something....? It would really give people a sense of ownership of the art.'

This post was written by Samantha Butler, Associate Artistic Director at Fevered Sleep. She also writes on The Future Playground, an online community dedicated to creating the future of art for children. Members of The Future Playground have also been hosting debates on issues around quality on their own blog pages.


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